Re: Spouse selection

1

I thought the expression was about hiding your light under a bushel. Are you playing dumb around us?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 6:51 AM
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Huh. That makes more sense, doesn't it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 6:54 AM
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To be unbearably earnest for a sec, it dawns on me that I have the same dynamic with Unfogged as my mom wanted with a spouse, and I find it incredibly appealing: I can act as smart as I possibly can and still feel like everyone else is smarter.

(I know there's collective intelligence which is smarter than any one person's individual intelligence, so I'm not claiming that experience is perfectly accurate. Just that it's a dynamic I enjoy.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 6:56 AM
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"Hide her light under a bush" sounds dirty.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:12 AM
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Not virginal?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:14 AM
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The biggest lesson I took away from my first marriage was to make 100% certain that I actively like any potential spouse's family, because you get all of their shit and baggage as part of the deal.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:15 AM
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5: Maybe just not neatly trimmed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:16 AM
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Lace-trimmed white satin bushes are the saintliest places to hide your light.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:17 AM
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9

I don't even like my own family; I can't imagine liking someone else's.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:18 AM
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Gottman's research on marriage says that statements that come from a relative position of superiority (contempt statements) are the most likely predictors of divorce. It's probably good in a marriage to think that your partner is better than you are, whether or not it is objectively or meaningfully true.


Posted by: Sarah Wynde | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:19 AM
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11

In a happy family, you save the contempt for the letter that goes out with the holiday cards.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:21 AM
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Gottman's work kind of annoys me, and I'm not sure why, but I'm fond of the magic ratio - 5:2 (I think?) - that he mentions for marriages (and I've seen elsewhere for child-rearing). The idea being that as long as you have at least 5 positive interactions for 2 negative interactions, everything will be basically stable and healthy.

I don't know why it appeals to me so much - maybe because it's so flexible. There's so many ways to achieve that ratio, and there's permission to go ahead and get your two negative interactions. Just balance them out.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:23 AM
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If you were wondering, 'Bushel,' in 14th and 21st century English and 'modios/modius' in the proverb it translates is primarily a unit of measurement, applied by extension to the basket or bowls that hold that much.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:23 AM
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I don't even like my own family; I can't imagine liking someone else's.

I've liked boyfriends' families more than I liked the boyfriend.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:24 AM
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I'm fond of the magic ratio - 5:2

It does work well. I use a five-sided die and if I roll a four or a five, I get to be an asshole.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:25 AM
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16

Isn't bushel still used that way?

I love you
A bushel and a peck!
A bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck,
A hug around the neck
And a barrel and a peep!
A barrel and a peep, and I'm talking in my sleep,
About you! (About who?) About you!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:27 AM
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3

... I find it incredibly appealing: I can act as smart as I possibly can and still feel like everyone else is smarter.

You really like the idea of being the dumbest person in the room? Can't say it appeals to me.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:27 AM
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Huh-- not being completely candid about advantages and especially disadvantages is just normal being careful.

Conversations here don't have any consequences, not like real life.

Finding a partner feels friendly while it's happening for young people, I think. I'm older, and don't see it quite the same way anymore.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:29 AM
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15

It does work well. I use a five-sided die and if I roll a four or a five, I get to be an asshole.

You should be using a seven-sided die.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:30 AM
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Most of my real life conversations don't have any consequences.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:30 AM
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21

James may have saved my marriage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:32 AM
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It's probably good in a marriage to think that your partner is better than you are, whether or not it is objectively or meaningfully true.

I strongly agree with this.

Regarding in-laws, my late father-in-law was one of the kindest people I have ever known. Both his (outwardly completely unremarkable) life and the effect his death had on his family made me reevaluate the way I thought about being good to other people.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:33 AM
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I was about to post comment 19. I can't believe the statistician made that mistake.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:33 AM
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Isn't bushel still used that way?

As a quantity? Yes, of course. But, except in the proverb, I don't think it's used to mean a big bowl or basket anymore.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:34 AM
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James should become a marriage counselor.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:35 AM
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20. Some people are more open, others less. Maybe try telling people that you see every day exactly what their most serious shortcomings are.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:36 AM
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17. A solitary life explained. Sorry, couldn't resist.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:37 AM
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23: I'm taking another class this spring. Maybe addition will be covered.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:37 AM
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16: barrel and a heap!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:37 AM
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26: I'm going to and get paid for it today. I have to do a mid-probationary period review of the new guy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:38 AM
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24: Maybe hang out at farmers markets and see if they do it there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:40 AM
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You really like the idea of being the dumbest person in the room? Can't say it appeals to me.

Really? It seems like it's often pretty stimulating to be around people who are smarter. Being the smartest person in a room can get boring.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:41 AM
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33

29: Oh, that's a different song. I love Peep.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:41 AM
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34

Finding a partner feels friendly while it's happening for young people, I think.

Can you expand on this, lw? I'm intrigued, but don't quite know what you might mean.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:44 AM
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35

I was the dumbest person in a (3 person) office for a while, and enjoyed it. Though I think that wouldn't really scale, and rather I like being the 3rd smartest person in the room no matter how big the room is.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:46 AM
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36

I would feel insecure if I were the least funny person in a room.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:50 AM
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37

"Smartest" is one of those qualities that can be measured along so many different axes that it doesn't hold much meaning for me. I feel like I'm usually the least credentialed person around here, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:52 AM
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32

Really? It seems like it's often pretty stimulating to be around people who are smarter. Being the smartest person in a room can get boring.

Those aren't the only two possibilities you know. Always being the equivalent of the last kid picked at recess doesn't seem attractive to me.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:53 AM
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34. Young people are usually eager, optimistic, and confident. Being basically happy and socializing with similar people, who see their lives as full of future unencumbered by their pasts (that is, their families and financial circumstances) is a lot of fun. Most young people don't think about the prospect of problems.

Older people see more than just a shared good time and compatible sensibility when they look at potential partners, for themselves or for their kids.

Generalizing from my own history and sensibilities, obviously. A gloomier cohort of young people, or young people dealing with the effect of war or prison on their immediate families might have a different outlook.

Congratulations, by the way.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:53 AM
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40

The possibility that she be the smart one in the relationship was absolutely not on the table.

Oh, man, that made me depressed. I had read your opening sentence as meaning that she wanted to be with someone who wouldn't care (or indeed was attracted to the fact) that she was the smart one. Not that she had to restrict her options to even smarter people than her.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:53 AM
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41

I would feel insecure if I had the fewest axes of anybody in the room.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:54 AM
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42

AXES DON'T KILL PEOPLE. PEOPLE WITH AXES KILL PEOPLE.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GIMLI | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:55 AM
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35: This is close to how I feel, but with my preference slightly lower--maybe the third quartile. Feeling the smartest is initially gratifying but in the long run annoying. On the other hand I don't like being so outclassed that I feel useless and am slowing everybody down. I like being somewhere in the distribution where I can both learn and be useful.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:57 AM
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44

I feel like I'm usually the least credentialed person around here, though.

That doesn't really hit me here, but it sure does at work. If I had a paragraph of a dissertation for every time I had to correct somebody who assumed I had a Ph.D., I would have a Ph.D.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:57 AM
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45

I feel like I'm usually the least credentialed person around here, though.

Does "here" mean your place of work or this blog?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:57 AM
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46

37. Definitely seconded. The usual meaning of the word, some combination of real analytical ability and well-informed glibness, doesn't count for much I think.

Maybe keeps the odds of being blindsided by the unexpected down, but a lot of risk in life comes from personality, which correlates with thinking style so who knows.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:00 AM
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47

Another asymmetry that people don't think about enough when they're young is career success; if the magnitude of the change in relative rates of success changes to rapidly or flips sign when the couple isn't prepared for it then it can cause real trouble for the relationship. This is known as the problem of the norm of Desmond.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:01 AM
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48

The best is to be smarter on some axes and dumber on others. That way you get to learn some stuff and you get to bloviate a bit. I like to hang out with smart lit types because I'm dumb as a rock on that axis and so I always learn something.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:01 AM
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49

I feel like I'm usually the least credentialed person around here, though.

Take heart, I didn't even finish my undergrad degree.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:03 AM
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50

Does "here" mean your place of work or this blog?

Here at the blog. I'm definitely on the low-degree rung at work, but there are lots of others standing on that same rung.

Take heart, I didn't even finish my undergrad degree.

Score!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:06 AM
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16: Christ, Heebie, you just gave me a nasty flashback to when my daughter was 3 or 4 and we had to listen to that song all the time.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:13 AM
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52

but there are lots of others standing on that same rung.

Call OSHA.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:20 AM
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48

The best is to be smarter on some axes and dumber on others. ...

I agree with this. Which will usually be the case if the disparity in intelligence isn't too great.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:24 AM
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54

Hi.


Posted by: A Gigantic Cock Is The Only Credential I Need | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:30 AM
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55

I most often feel like the dumbest person in the room here. Generally I'd rather be somewhere in the top half, but you're all especially smart so it doesn't bug me that much. I'm presidential so it doesn't sound like a plea for reassurance. You'd feel silly reassuring Harry Truman.


Posted by: Harry Truman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:32 AM
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56

I graduated third in my class from the School of Hard Knocks. Top that, bitches!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:36 AM
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57

I think I may be heebie. I care way more about being comparably unfunny than comparably dumb. I don't really know or care if I'm among the dumbest people here, but it fucking kills me that I'm below the median for funny here.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:40 AM
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58

Don't tell Ross Douthat or he'll be even more disappointed in America.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:48 AM
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59

58 to every comment on the blog, ever.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:53 AM
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I've never really felt 'smartest in the room' among my social circle, even going back to my teens. There are people I know who are demonstrably more knowledgeable than me in lots of specific areas, and most are generally bright and interesting people. And it's never been an issue in romantic relationships.

At work, on the other hand ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:56 AM
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55: There is an effect at work here at Unfogged where people tend to comment on threads where they have some expertise and stay silent or just make clever jokes when they don't know much. The result is an aggregate apparent intelligence and expertise that is far greater than any single person could have. And that makes it easy to feel inferior around here, because of course you on your own can't match the collective wit and wisdom. This effect (which I wich I could come up with a name for, preferably out of some perfect and obscure myth or something) is more pronounced here than in other corners of the internet IME. It's also something that doesn't really happen in repeated real-life interactions with people, because there you actually notice who doesn't have anything to say about statistics, weird programming languages, politics, world literature, etc.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:56 AM
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61: people tend to comment on threads where they have some expertise and stay silent or just make clever jokes when they don't know much

Uh-oh, I feel a sonnet coming on...


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:58 AM
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Huh, okay, it took me until reading 40 to make sense of the post, because I read it the same way GY did, and couldn't come up with the second interpretation.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:59 AM
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||
Aren't we overdue for an update from PINY?
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:01 AM
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65

61: illusory inferiority.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:02 AM
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47: Stanley is contagious.

48: This is about right. I'm happiest with people who can tell me interestingly about things I don't know. (Almost doesn't matter what -- I had a wicked crush on a sailing friend when I was in high school triggered by a half-hour explanation of what the little exploding noises his ancient car made after he attempted to turn the ignition off were. Never got anywhere with him, but I pined for a couple of summers.) On the other hand, if I don't think I'm entertaining to the people I'm with, I get insecure and withdrawn instantly.

55: If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:04 AM
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67

Somebody considered running an experiment on the topic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:04 AM
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68

"Kitchen Avoidance as a Palliative for Thermal Sensitivity: Evidence from a Randomized Trial."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:06 AM
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69

I wish I could find a job where I got to interact with people who were at least in the same cohort of funniness that I am in. The stock brokerage wasn't too awful, although I did have to hide my light under a bushel there to some extent. Newspapers were ideal. Sigh. It's a sad life wherever you go.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:07 AM
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70

"Illusory inferiority" is too broad.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:07 AM
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69: Oddly, law school, or at least the groups I hang out with in law school, is full of very funny people and people who laugh at my jokes. Also boring people who think I'm an alien, but whatever.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:09 AM
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72

I didn't know that. Is anybody else here going to law school?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:10 AM
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73

70: reverse Downing effect?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:11 AM
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74

71 isn't surprising? In that superficial people are often very funny.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:11 AM
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75

Anyway, ogged was right: only have relationships with people who have mental whateverness.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:12 AM
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Hmm. I wonder if there are law school jobs I could get. Probably not, with the excess of JD's right now.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:12 AM
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77

Stanley is.

I wish I could find a job where I got to interact with people who were at least in the same cohort of funniness that I am in.

It's funny -- lawyers are generally a good source of people who are my kind of funny. OTOH, there's something about my workplace that makes me feel compelled to keep a lid on it; every so often I relax and say something I think is amusing, and I feel a bit inappropriate. Whish is annoying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:12 AM
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78

Reverse Dunning-Kruger?


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:14 AM
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79

(The JDs all hang around the Law School campus, wearing their leather jackets, smoking cigarettes and putting pomade on their DAs, and whenever I go over there they call me "four eyes" and play keep-away with my glasses.)


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:14 AM
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80

||

Want a squirrel fetus necklace?

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:14 AM
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81

Are law schools more likely to be full of superficial people than other places? Are makeup artists funnier than law students?


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:16 AM
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82

putting pomade on their DAs

This is why prosecutors always look vaguely sticky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:16 AM
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83

81: No, and I'm mentally kicking heebie in the shins for that crack right now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:17 AM
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It's funny -- lawyers are generally a good source of people who are my kind of funny.

Strange - Brit lawyers tend to be extremely pleasant but entirely humourless.

I too shat my undergrad degree, but 20 years later I was sent to get an MSc by my employer and was admitted on the strength of knowing more about the subject than most of the lecturers my work experience.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:17 AM
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77.1: Stanley was 1. Bave is 2. I was told to expect things to come in sets of three.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:17 AM
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80: I don't think "want" is the right word exactly -- "desire" or "covet" or "feel compelled by an eldritch force that fills the mind with horrifying, non-Euclidian geometries of need" is what you're looking for.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:17 AM
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Are law schools more likely to be full of superficial people than other places? Are makeup artists funnier than law students?

Funnier than a bowl full of feminists!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:19 AM
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"Another asymmetry that people don't think about enough when they're young is career success; if the magnitude of the change in relative rates of success changes to rapidly or flips sign when the couple isn't prepared for it then it can cause real trouble for the relationship. This is known as the problem of the norm of Desmond."

The Seal syndrome. Hayden hypothesis. Law of Lafoon.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:19 AM
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89

And that makes it easy to feel inferior around here, because of course you on your own can't match the collective wit and wisdom.

Speak for yourself, Bave.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:22 AM
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90

||

If Obama appoints Anna Wintour as ambassador to France, will anybody ever take him seriously again?

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:23 AM
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91

The U.S. has been shipping out wealthy/connected political neophytes with no foreign policy experience to serve as ambassadors for years now. Why is this different?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:25 AM
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After a period of lurking, I started commenting with the commitment that I would only say something if it raised the median level of conversation.

I gave up on that quickly, though. As with the Supreme Court, I contend that mediocre people deserve representation on Unfogged.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:37 AM
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90: as long as he has the fancy office and the nuclear football, you kinda have to take him seriously.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:38 AM
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94

which I wich I could come up with a name for, preferably out of some perfect and obscure myth or something

This place really isn't going to live up to the things people are saying about it in this thread if someone doesn't instantly identify that myth.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:40 AM
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90: The New York Times Style section?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:41 AM
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96

65 is what you would use in a paper.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:42 AM
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97

I'm happiest with people who can tell me interestingly about things I don't know.

Sometimes I'm even happy when people are telling me interestingly about things I do know. I sometimes pretend to be ignorant of things just to let other people explain them to me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:43 AM
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Oh, man, that made me depressed. I had read your opening sentence as meaning that she wanted to be with someone who wouldn't care (or indeed was attracted to the fact) that she was the smart one. Not that she had to restrict her options to even smarter people than her.

Yeah, that was my reaction.

I wonder how my mother saw her intelligence relative to my father's. Their strengths were very different. She was book smart, read far more, did the NYT crossword, was very capable at the things she was interested in, certainly had more emotional intelligence and wisdom. My father is super capable when it comes to systems and has taught himself how to build, repair, and/or manipulate a huge variety of things. (Engines to construction to investments to navigation to awesome pinewood derby cars that win races, oh yeah.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:44 AM
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97: Apparently, there's nothing that you don't know and thus you've grown bored.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:44 AM
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100

Dammit, I miss my mother.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:45 AM
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101

I remember a guy in high school that said he didn't want to marry a woman that was as smart as him.

I told him he would either be single for his whole life, or else his future wife would just be playing dumb for him.

I never had any criteria for spouses. I didn't ever have any plan to get married, and I just hoped that if I did we would like each other.

I


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:46 AM
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102

33: ? It's the same song. A barrel and a heap / and I'm talking in my sleep.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:50 AM
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103

The possibility that she be the smart one in the relationship was absolutely not on the table. I've asked her "Why was that the only option? If you're smarter and interested in someone, why not not play dumb?" I think there are two reasons - it wouldn't have appealed to many young men, then, first, and second, it wouldn't have appealed to my mom. She simultaneously believes she's smart and prefers to be considered less smart than those around her.

This bit has something to do with how my parents' marriage got screwed up. They clearly got together as the intellectual elite of their mutual crowd of 1960's Queens barflies; Dad does 'smartest guy in the room' fairly effortlessly in most rooms, and Mom is similarly clever, but presents more as "Golly, everyone knows I'm an idiot, but even I can see that [slashingly efficient solution to whatever the current problem is]."

I think Mom's schtick started out as a response to some unfortunate family-of-origin dynamics, and maybe an attempt to be non-threateningly feminine for 1960s social-acceptance purposes, but by the time I was paying attention, it was definitely both an ineradicable habit, and something that she felt unhappy about. She ended up feeling intellectually insecure around people she was as smart or smarter than, and feeling as though her intelligence was being unjustly insulted all the time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:50 AM
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104

Why would you marry someone you didn't like?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:50 AM
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105

Dynastic reasons.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:52 AM
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106

Take heart, I didn't even finish my undergrad degree.

I neither finished my undergrad degree nor successfully trained to be a police officer. I win the race to the bottom.

Prudence dictates that I refrain from commenting on the dynamic addressed in the OP, but mumble mumble mental whateverness something something.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:53 AM
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Want a squirrel fetus necklace?

No.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:53 AM
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54 to 104.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:54 AM
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89: Isn't that tautological?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:54 AM
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My mom has always made comments about how she and my dad are smart in different ways, so it took me a surprisingly long time to realize that she was unambiguously a lot smarter.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:55 AM
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If Obama appoints Anna Wintour as ambassador to France, will anybody ever take him seriously again?

Anna Wintour is a perfect diplomat. Between the bangs and the botox, no one can tell what she's thinking.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:57 AM
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109: I think I may speak for neb when I say "no".


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:58 AM
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110: Because you take after your father.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:59 AM
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I don't feel like I'm the dumbest person in the room here, but I often feel like I'm the most ignorant. It's partly a function of the phenomenon-without-a-name that Bave describes and partly that I really don't know all that much about much of anything; my strength is critical thinking and analysis rather than actually knowing things.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:59 AM
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I suspect my mother dialled back her intelligence in public with my father, although she would have hotly denied it. Certainly she seemed to get a lot brighter after my father died. The point is, my father would have been appalled with two "p"s if he had realised it, which makes it even sadder.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:01 AM
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my strength is critical thinking and analysis rather than actually knowing things.

Law school selects for that, I hear.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:02 AM
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114, 116: Yep. I know just about enough about almost anything to nod knowingly and say "I've heard of that", but hardly anything in depth about anything. For lawyering, it works well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:06 AM
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I don't feel like I'm the dumbest person in the room here, but I often feel like I'm the most ignorant. It's partly a function of the phenomenon-without-a-name that Bave describes and partly that I really don't know all that much about much of anything; my strength is critical thinking and analysis rather than actually knowing things.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:06 AM
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It's the double-posting, Kraab. Makes you look dumber.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:06 AM
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||
NMM in irregular rhythms to Dave Brubeck.
|>


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:09 AM
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119: I swear I didn't! I hit post after writing this:

Instead I went to business school, which selects for neither.

I'm sure god had a good reason, though.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:09 AM
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ARCHIMEDES. On hearing his name, shout "Eureka!" Or else: "Give me a fulcrum and I will move the world." There is also Archimedes' screw, but you are not expected to know what it is.


Posted by: Opinionated Dictionnaire des idées reçues | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:10 AM
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I know just about enough about almost anything to nod knowingly and say "I've heard of that"

Demonstrably false (unless you've got a team of research elves working furiously while you comment).


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:11 AM
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I google a lot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:11 AM
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ARCHIMEDES: The guy who discovered screwing in the bath. (Or so I was told.)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:14 AM
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125: What did he use for leverage?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:18 AM
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Pretending to be dumber than the men seems really poisonous to me, when I see it in my conservative relatives. No hairy-legged Yankee feminist despises men as much as someone who has committed to flattering them without respect or reward for the rest of her life; "Oh they're all just big babies, you can wrap them around your little finger."

My mother does the fluttering-over-smart thing too, and it attracts men who she can't have long relationships with. They manage to not observe the things she's designed, built, rewired, repaired in a fresh gale, and assume she's incompetent. Arrrrrrrgh.

I can't think of an old myth for 'with enough eyes all problems are trivial'. Wasn't there a chess match in which the collective beat the masters? Did it have a name?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:22 AM
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I don't know if I'm very smart or not but the most tiresome conversations I've had recently were all, subtextually, about how smart the conversants were. I think this is interesting. A frank conversation about whose smarter might actually be entertaining -- and they were, when I was a child -- but when the real issue is someone's need to prove his intelligence, all else becomes pretext. It's boring.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:24 AM
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Also to the original post -- there's an issue I've commented on before, about feminism generally. There are a surprising number of people who (at least in some contexts) look at a situation where men have in the past been, and still in the present usually are, in a superior or dominant position, and are comfortable saying "That's unjust, we should be trying to approach equality. We may not get there, but that's the goal." But they get uncomfortable immediately with any specific situation -- an individual workplace, a romantic relationship, a demographic subgroup -- that can be viewed as unequal in favor of women.

Heebie's mother, my mother, essear's mother, chris y's mother, all look as if they were doing similar versions of "I can be smart, I just can't be smarter than my husband." There was that weird Atlantic article earlier in the year about how women are approaching equality with men on all sorts of metrics, which means that OMG men are obsolete and maybe they should all be euthanized. Particularly, there was coverage of some study showing that in some cities, single women, without kids, under thirty, outearned single men in the same age group (which means that over thirty, men make more. Married and any age, men make more. With kids, men make more. Outside of the cities this applies to, men make more) which got reported as proof that women were taking over.

It's a funny reaction -- in a really equal world, all sorts of individual things are going to look unequal on a small scale. It's just that the inequalities won't predominately be going in the same direction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:29 AM
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re: 123

I have, by average conversational standards, pretty vast general knowledge. I spend a lot of time when talking to friends pretending not to notice when they are egregiously wrong on some matter of trivial fact, on pain of coming across like an arsehole. I expect that's not that uncommon among Unfogged types. It just comes from reading vast amounts of shit since childhood, and being interested in lots of stuff. And also, genuinely, watching a lot of telly.

But, in line with what Bave said above, there are things I know I know very little about. Including (among other things) macroeconomics (and finance generally), maths above high school level, law, a lot of classical literature (Roman/Greek), and so on. And I just never talk about those. Or when I forgot that on those topics I am an ignoramus, I look an idiot. There are probably also, for Rumsfeldian reasons, topics about which I don't know I don't know.

I expect that general phenomenon is, again, pretty common here, and it contributes to the illusion that everyone is a know-it-all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:31 AM
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I always wanted to date women who I believed, either secretly or openly, to be smarter than me, which is not to say that I always got what I wanted.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:34 AM
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They manage to not observe the things she's designed, built, rewired, repaired in a fresh gale, and assume she's incompetent. Arrrrrrrgh.

The only area where I will stab someone who assumes I'm dumb is mechanical aptitude. Being ignored when people are trying to figure out how to maneuver a couch through a hallway, handiman only talks to Jammies when they're trying to solve a unique dilemma, etc.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:36 AM
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See, the next five times I make some particularly idiotic supposition here, I'm just helping other commenters feel good, right? (The other two are open for despite.)

Further to 129: I've overheard parents in a single 20 minute conversation praising their daughter for being top-of-class, you can do it!, and then mocking their son for not being top-of-class because he had `lost to a girl'. Way to insult both your kids at once, people.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:37 AM
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129: Related.

YA genre has experienced an increase in books with female protagonists -- particularly in the subgenre of science fiction and dystopian YA . . . with that progression comes corresponding reaction -- from articles like Sarah Mesle's "YA Fiction and the End of Boys" from the Los Angeles Review of Books to Robert Lipsyte's "Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?" from the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:38 AM
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132: Girls do okay at slicing and slashing, but you really want a man for actual stabbing.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:41 AM
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One of my parents is smarter than the other (I'd feel like an asshole saying which, even though obviously neither of them will ever read this) and I sometimes wondered what that was like for them. And then I got into a relationship with someone really enormously fucking smart and realized it's fine and it truly is not a competition and sometimes he seems to think I'm the smart one so hooray. Once we were at a party and someone said to both of us "I don't know how I feel about dating someone smarter than me" and we both said "it's great!" It is possible he has discovered my vast reserves of dumbness since then, but it was a very sweet little moment, a smart-cute.

This is really not very anonymous I don't think.


Posted by: Harry Truman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:41 AM
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Dammit, I miss my mother.

Sigh. That, unexpectedly, hit a button; I teared up.

(I have no knowledge of this smarts things. So I won't talk about that.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:44 AM
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One of my parents was also clearly smarter than the other in the general knowledge and abstract reasoning sort of sense, but the other is pretty damn smart and less of an arsehole about it. The smarter one was a bit of a dick about being smart,* although also genuinely happy and pleased to share knowledge with others, so it wasn't all bad.

* always the smartest person in the room, since childhood, and had never really been in many social situations or jobs where they had the opportunity to move in the sorts of circles where they might meet others smarter than them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:45 AM
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136: I haven't checked your IP, but no, not all that anonymous.

I don't know if I've ever been involved with someone I thought was smarter than I was, but also never the reverse -- while I've met people I think of as smarter than I am, and dumber than I am, I can't picture making fine distinctions around my own level. Most of anyone I'm managing to enjoy talking to, I'm thinking of as somewhere right around as sharp as I am, and I've never really dated outside that bracket. (Buck thinks, or at least says a fair amount, that I'm smarter than he is. I think that anyone looking at what both of us get done in an average day would have a hard time supporting that.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:47 AM
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||
I do not care if my housemates are smarter than I am, but I am annoyed that House 1 told me I had the room and then changed their minds just late enough that I'd already sent my regrets to House 2. Don't know yet if House 2 had made a firm offer to *their* second choice. Also don't know where I'll be living in three weeks. Aargh. Not the mood to go to AGU in.
|>


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:49 AM
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Harry Truman, that's a nice anecdote. I guess the fear in dating someone smarter than you is that you'll eventually bore them and they'll go find someone else or something. But things rarely work that way. The women I always considered smartest were often very attached to their less intelligent boyfriends. I assume it's the same with their husbands, though we're not as close now. As I get older I've come to think that deceitfulness and intelligence are rarely combined, though I didn't use to have such pollyannish views.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:51 AM
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I was worried that my spouse lacked sufficient Mental Whateverness when we first started dating. It turned out not to be a problem. He does lack a certain flashy wit which I thought I wanted, but it turns out we work just fine together.


Posted by: George Washington | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:59 AM
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I guess the fear in dating someone smarter than you is that you'll eventually bore them and they'll go find someone else or something.

I suspect that there's also an element of simply not liking feeling comparatively less smart, or that you stand revealed as less worthy on some metric.

There exists a certain person to whom I am attracted with regard to whom I feel something analogous—not that she is smarter than I am to a fearsome extent but that her life seems to be so much more on track and put together than mine is: owns a very smartly decorated home, has many enviable pursuits, is, in short, a real person, whereas I am just a shmoe. I doubt, for better or worse, that I'll ever get to the point of knowing how that feeling would play out if we were in the same relationship.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:00 AM
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142: This is why I think men should try to date women who are smarter than them, and that's how I will advise my son.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:02 AM
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I suspect that there's also an element of simply not liking feeling comparatively less smart, or that you stand revealed as less worthy on some metric.

I guess I always want to feel that way. It means I'm pushing myself. I don't know if that's healthy, probably not.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:05 AM
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I don't think I can even compare my parents' intelligence, although it's clear that my mother was told she was stupid for much of her early life and my father was told he was brilliant for much of his early life, and they've adjusted these assessments closer to a mean. My paternal grandmother, though, was almost certainly worlds smarter than anyone she dated or married (aside from the apocryphal story about dating a relative of Nabokov while at Wells/Cornell -- I've never been able to find a plausible candidate, but maybe it happened -- what incentive would she have to lie?), but because she had (internalized the views of) an evil mother considered herself to be garbage and aimed low.

It's interesting that so many of you have a strong sense of your own relative intelligence -- I don't think I do.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:08 AM
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Clew, let me know if you need a place to stay while you transition to Davis. We have an open room.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:10 AM
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I don't like feeling like the smartest person around because then I feel like it's my job to Fix Everything (even more than otherwise) and, while being Smartest might be necessary, it's certainly not sufficient.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:12 AM
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Why would you marry someone you didn't like?

That's a very good question, and I don't have a good answer, but it isn't that unusual to find couples that don't seem to like each other at all.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:12 AM
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I have a pretty strong sense of my relative intelligence and tend to rank people that way. Like some of the above, I like being in the top quartile but not the smartest in the room.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:13 AM
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whereas I am just a shmoe

IME, as with intelligence, there are different schmo axes. (And different transliteration axes.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:13 AM
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Megan, that is an *incredibly* comforting offer, thanks, and I am off to AGU in better mood.

I'll almost certainly find someplace -- there's lots of turnover -- but it's not what I should be concentrating on.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:13 AM
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149: For people I know, it usually looks like some version of "It's time to get married, and this person ticks the appropriate-spouse boxes." Not that coldblooded, but something like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:16 AM
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Or you start to dislike the person over time. You change, they change, etc.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:17 AM
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My dad was an orphan, raised by an aunt and uncle. The uncle was brilliant: an actuary who had dated Katherine Hepburn early on, and ended up running a big insurance company. He set the standard, and more or less no one else in my family claims to be smart. I inherited his Britannica, with corrections penciled in the margins to some of the math articles. (Outsiders think my older brother with the Princeton PhD is probably pretty smart. You people all know better than to buy into that sort of credentialism . . .)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:19 AM
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That, unexpectedly, hit a button; I teared up.

Yeah, me too. I really miss my dad, who was immensely smart in ways I never fully appreciated when he was alive. He showed a certain dynamic of intellectual curiosity and introversion that he didn't share with my mom, who is smart but in mostly different ways, and I think he had the same attitude toward the solitude that it involved as I do: general contentment tinged with loneliness. I see the same thing now in one of my daughters, who is devastatingly smart and creative but who, as I just found out the other day, sometimes just walks around the schoolyard by herself at recess because she's become something of an outsider to her classmates. She's not overtly unhappy about it, and she has these immense internal resources to draw on, but the thought of it just fucking kills me sometimes.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:19 AM
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So, the complicating factor in finding someone smart enough and who doesn't expect you to dumb yourself down is that I tend to be a little reticent by nature, humble, underconfident -- however you want to phrase it -- and tend to present a little timidly. I tend to be attracted to men who present a little overconfidently. So it's only a bit down the road that it becomes clear that I am the smarter one and that neither of us likes it that way.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:27 AM
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156.last is sad-making.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:27 AM
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...general contentment tinged with loneliness.

This is how I spend a lot of my time. It's not bad at all, just a little odd relative to the way most people prefer to be.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:28 AM
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I think that the "loneliness" part of "general contentment tinged with loneliness" is in conflict with "not bad at all"


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:29 AM
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Jesus, I've talked about this before, but if you have any option to get her into rooms where she is average, I'd move heaven and earth. I am sure it saved maybe my actual life, and certainly what I recognize as an ordered life.

My dad tells a story about an MIT math Ph. D at his work, who alluded to his smarter brothers. His parents thought that as the slow brother he would need the scholastic credential, but his brothers were smart enough to get along without it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:30 AM
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Some combination of the subject of the original post plus heebie's 16 has stuck this in my head all day. Damn her!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:30 AM
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It is, but if it helps any I was a sad little friendless outsider in elementary school, and I've been mostly fine since then. And I'll bet there are a dozen more of me here.

(I was all braced to deal with this for my kids, and then it turned out they drew the 'beloved by all' card from Buck's side of the deck -- Sally more than Newt, but neither one is my kind of weirdo loner. None of my childhood social experiences are terribly relevant to them, thank goodness.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:31 AM
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It may sound callous, but if she's a bright kid with strong internal resources and she's not being actively bullied, she's doing OK.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:34 AM
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90: Sexist.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:35 AM
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One advantage of enjoying being around smarter people is that it makes it much easier to admit when you're wrong. It doesn't threaten your identity.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:38 AM
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141: I've come to think that deceitfulness and intelligence are rarely combined

Maybe smarter people are just better liars.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:39 AM
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I learned something important from my first serious boyfriend back in college: that a person can be smart and shallow at the same time. When we were dating, I assumed that I was smarter than he because I was deeper. In retrospect, I think this was not true, that I was mistaking depth for smarts; he was certainly shallower, but I think he was also smarter. I never felt threatened in my intelligence, because I just assumed I was smarter, whereas he constantly felt threatened, perhaps because I acted like I was the smart one. The takeaway for me was that in life generally, being smart is a useful trait, while depth confers no advantage I can see. But in a relationship, a partner who is a good match in depth is a lot more important than a good match in intelligence.

Since then I've dated a few people who were dumber than I am and the way it tended to go is that it took me a long, long time, and a pretty big signalling event, for me to notice.

All in all, I don't think "smart" is a very useful concept.


Posted by: Clover Grieveland | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:40 AM
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Jesus, I've talked about this before, but if you have any option to get her into rooms where she is average, I'd move heaven and earth.

Seconded. Rory had a similar recess routine (playing alone) by the end of grade school. In middle school, she's in the gifted classroom and a lot more socially adapted to a roomful of self-described nerds.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:46 AM
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Maybe smarter people are just better liars.

Possibly, or more selective liars. I think lying takes up a fair amount of mental capacity though. So if you measure high on lying, you probably measure low on other metrics. I guess I have in mind the sort of people who don't really have the time to lie to you because it's not interesting for them.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:49 AM
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166: This. Not needing to lock antlers with anyone who's an intellectual threat makes life much easier.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:50 AM
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170: Professionally, there's also the 'honesty is the best policy' issue. I notice that people who lie a lot tend to be idiots, because they're the ones who don't notice that they're nine-out-of-ten going to get busted for it. I don't know if smarter people are actually more honest in any moral sense, but I'm sure they lie less by volume of lies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:54 AM
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156.last: it gets better.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:55 AM
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I think lying takes up a fair amount of mental capacity though. So if you measure high on lying, you probably measure low on other metrics.

Who was it who said, if you don't start lying you don't have to remember to keep the story straight?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:55 AM
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Is "depth" a more useful concept? I don't know what it actually refers to as applied to a person. In matters of expertise, some people are specialists and some generalists. But I don't think distribution of knowledge means that much here. A generalist and specialist might have very similar personalities. I don't know if it changes how they act.

My guess is that what you mean here is empathy or something. I agree, empathy is important. But one can have a very deep understanding of a great many things while lacking it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:56 AM
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Yeah, she's doing OK. More than OK, because she just keeps on being herself without giving any sense that she feels as though she needs to change to be accepted. I'm open to finding situations where she's more average, but changing situations can also be alienating, so that's tricky. I'll intervene if it seems necessary, but as long as she seems well-adjusted, I trust that she'll figure out how to deal. Or, on preview, what essear said.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 11:56 AM
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174: I said that first. Yeah, that's the ticket.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:01 PM
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174: Plenty of people get their stories confused without lying.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:03 PM
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168 is enlightening to me. I don't like the word smart because it doesn't seem to mean the same thing to any two people, but I'll use it as shorthand anyway. My current beau considers herself less smart than me, but what does it matter that I'm better at doing abstract stuff like math? We mostly get along fine.

The one situation where it comes up is if we disagree about something important. My natural tendency is to have a debate and try to figure it out, but the end result is that she feels frustrated and says something like "you must be right because I can't come up with a counter-argument and what you're saying makes sense", which doesn't solve anything. In this case, it's not that I'm smarter but that I spent my formative years arguing with kids on the debate team. Undergrad and grad school were just more of the same, sans the debate team. I now know that it's a bad idea to try to reason out a conflict with her, but I have no idea how to resolve a conflict, if not through debate.

My dad's favored method was yelling + violence, which doesn't seem helpful, either. I'm at a loss here, and I actually wonder if we're fundamentally incompatible because of this.


Posted by: Stephen Kinnock | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:05 PM
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Gottman's work kind of annoys me, and I'm not sure why

I know why he annoys me: his methodology is bogus. I recall a study of his where he claimed to be able to predict divorce with 94% success. What he did was look at N couples, come up with a model based on the behavior of those N couples, and then apply the model to those same N couples. In machine learning, we call that cheating. I'm less familiar with the statistics literature, but I suspect stats people would have the same opinion.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:09 PM
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Not needing to lock antlers with anyone who's an intellectual threat makes life much easier.

There's something else here, aside from personal inadequacy issues or what have you. It's the stupid people who anoint the smart ones by challenging them unreflectively. In an environment where tedious conversations whose subtext are "I'm as smart as you" don't occur, intelligent children don't have to refute stupid arguments over and over again.

Another way of saying this is that being in a room full of people slightly smarter than you takes the pressure off, because you don't have to correct them all the time.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:09 PM
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It's interesting that so many of you have a strong sense of your own relative intelligence -- I don't think I do.

I feel like I'm one of the smarter people in my RL social circles*. On unfogged I generally feel smart enough to keep up (though far too earnest, and not very funny) and I've noticed that can range from "just barely smart enough to compete" to feeling like I fit comfortably in this crowd, depending on my mood. Which is to say that I think my ability to have a sense of my intelligence relative to acquaintances isn't fixed, but fluctuates within a range.

* I've said before that, generally speaking, I'm competitive but not ambitious. I will try to maximize within a given situation but am slow to try to seek out new challenges or a new situation. The same is true, socially, I have a good eye for smart and interesting people within my immediate circles, but I'm terrible about meeting new people. So I feel like the groups of people I know in RL are relatively small and not necessarily self-selecting for intelligence.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:12 PM
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She's not overtly unhappy about it, and she has these immense internal resources to draw on

This is my tendency and it's both good and bad. It's good because I tend to be relatively self-sufficient, it's bad because I learned (or, perhaps, always had) a habit of withdrawing as a response to conflict or tension. So I've never done very well at learning the skills to be able to seek out or make requests of other people. I tend to either adjust internally or just give up.

Which is mostly fine, it's hardly a serious problem, but I sometimes suspect that I limit my horizons in a variety of ways and that's one of them.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:17 PM
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What he did was look at N couples, come up with a model based on the behavior of those N couples, and then apply the model to those same N couples.

I'm not sure what was involved in that work as I've never read it. However, the word "model" get used different ways. It isn't obvious to me that it is cheating. You certainly aren't supposed to use the word "predict" baldly like that in the write-up (though that happens in casual conversation), but journalists are usually to blame for that. If you had a sufficiently large N, a reasonably specified prior theory, and a some sort of regression-based methodology, it could get translated that way. It would work differently than decision tree analysis or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:22 PM
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My freshman year roommate, let's call him Sam, was really smart- starting college a year early, and in freshman year already taking junior level physics classes. Now a math prof. at a UC.
So, years later my wife got a job at a school and carpooled with a guy, her work husband, and he's convinced that I'm the smartest guy he knows- partly credentialism, but whatever. One day he gave us a ride somewhere and he said he had been waiting to talk to me because he finally met someone smarter than me- he'd been interviewing roommates, and there was this guy who had majored in physics and math, finished college young, etc., so I said, "Oh, you mean Sam?" which it was. Now work husband is convinced that there is exactly one person smarter than me in our metro area and that I know exactly who that person is and follow his movements.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:25 PM
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184: Wouldn't you worry you were overfitting, without an independent sample to check the result on?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:26 PM
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Now work husband is convinced that there is exactly one person smarter than me in our metro area and that I know exactly who that person is and follow his movements.

He thinks you're Professor Moriarty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:28 PM
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The one situation where it comes up is if we disagree about something important. My natural tendency is to have a debate and try to figure it out, but the end result is that she feels frustrated and says something like "you must be right because I can't come up with a counter-argument and what you're saying makes sense", which doesn't solve anything.

No, this problem can be solvable, although it's tricky. The key is probably to realize that losing an argument which has mostly been framed by an apparently calmer, cooler-headed person is an intellectual and moral humiliation, and leaves one feeling helpless, guilty and out of psychological resources. It's not your job to address all that singlehandedly, of course, but IME people who never end up on that side of things don't realize how painful it is. I don't know what "important things" you debate, though. A lot of the burden of conflict resolution is on her, unfortunately, if I've assessed the situation correctly and she needs to learn to separate emotional from intellectual irresolution. I had to learn to do this and it was quite difficult. But of course, as I was too modest to admit above, I am clearly a genius, so maybe it doesn't map.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:28 PM
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186: I would if it ever got an R2 of .94.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:29 PM
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187: What happened to Mycroft?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:29 PM
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deceitfulness and intelligence are rarely combined

I call selection bias. After I got to college, I mostly associated with middle-class bookish people. Counterexamples to this claim are LBJ or this forger


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:33 PM
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||

I really wish I could transcribe in real time the conversation two grad students are having about quant job interviews outside my office right now.

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:35 PM
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186: Also, that's why I put in "reasonably specified prior theory." Mostly, we try to see if X is related to Y (controlling for whatever). We don't try to see how well we can predict Y.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:36 PM
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Oh, but you can. Does your phone have text to speech or do you have a google voice number? Just sayin'


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:36 PM
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190: Made redundant by Tory austerity measures.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:37 PM
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There are still quant jobs? I thought the free market eliminated that sort of thing when it turned out it was socially worthless.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:39 PM
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I like 168's depth-matching concept. Lee has very different realms of smartness than I do, but we both agree on a lot politically and in other ways that seem to matter. She's also good for me because she's so much more social. I was a loner child and am now struggling with loneliness but not to the point where I want to make myself go out and make friends. I'll take the girls to a potluck tonight and I really enjoy that level of casual conversation, but I don't follow up and create deeper friendships with other adults.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:39 PM
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134: the first author mentioned in that graf is a dear friend who showed the article to me before publication, and it's really much better than the backlashy piece it's made out to be there. I wish I'd suggested a few inoculation statements against the "what about the menz" pushback she got, but it's really a very good look at YA fiction including a good reading of Uncle Toms Cabin.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:42 PM
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In my relationships I have generally been the funny one, and my partner the smart one. My mother is definitely the smart one and my father the funny one in their relationship. Not that he's not smart, they're both quite intelligent on many levels, but she's a notch or two up. She's also been the smartest person in her family (by wide acclamation) her whole life. I don't know how that affected her relationship choices exactly, but I think it clearly made a difference.

Regarding 156.last, of course I was not only the kid sitting in the corner of the playground reading a book, I was also the one left behind in the classroom for not finishing homework or whatever. Where I also read my book. In jr. high I fell in with the other three really smart misfits. They liked to talk about Piers Anthony, which I considered low humor, but now one of them is a Harvard-educated librarian, the other is an English professor in Taiwan and the third is still fairly smart, even after spending 15 years or so completely tuned out of reality on meth and hallucinogens. Weirdly, for such an anti-social childhood, I now seem to be the person in my social circles who takes the most pleasure in hanging out with people, although I'm still more of a small-group person.

||
How great is it that the president of a major local Soma/i community/social service organization is apparently a fellow of Jewish ethnicity? Only in liberal south Minneapolis!
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:48 PM
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198: I still haven't read your other friend's book, but both library copies in the system are in now and so I just requested it. I do think your friend who's writing about YA did so well, but I also think that she's missing a whole bunch of books that are about becoming a man but featuring poor protagonists of color. They'd be more pertinent than The Outsiders and probably in many ways in its tradition. (Big caveat that I do pay some attention to what's going on in YA but don't actually know any stats or anything.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:49 PM
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166: intelligence as identity is such a pernicious beast. I wish I had never fallen prey to it.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:50 PM
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184:

The Gottman Institute, which I'm assuming is associated with Gottman, says this:


Six of the seven studies have been predictive--each began with a hypothesis about factors leading to divorce. Based on these factors, Dr. Gottman predicted who would divorce, then followed the couples for a pre-determined length of time. Finally, he drew conclusions about the accuracy of his predictions. He has also consistently evaluated other theoretical models that might predict differently and reported the results of these analyses (e.g., Gottman & Levenson, 2002). This is true prediction.

But it seems like he refits his model to the specific data in the study each time (at least, that's what he does in the study that's cited, though I only skimmed it). If that's allowed, I can easily get 100% accuracy: basically anything with enough features will work. Lets use perceptron with the names of the couples as features*!

* may need to do disambiguation.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 12:50 PM
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200: I don't think anyone knows stats. She'd love to hear your list if you'd like to send it on through me (or directly to her at the other place through my list).


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:00 PM
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188: By important things, I mean relationship related issues, as opposed to, say, politics.

It doesn't bother me or my friends to "lose" an argument, but that's probably because it happens all the time as a matter of course. Now that you mention it, I realize that's unusual.

This is so stereotypical, but, maybe the more fundamental problem is that I don't just "get" what she's feeling without explanation, and she can't articulate it reasonably. By that, I mean that she can't make self consistent statements that describe what she's feeling. I don't know that my internal beliefs are any more consistent, but I've been trained to unconsciously police my statements for consistency through decades of having inconsistent arguments picked apart, so what I'm saying at least sounds reasonable, even if what I'm thinking is an incoherent mess.


Posted by: Stephen Kinnock | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:03 PM
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If that's allowed, I can easily get 100% accuracy: basically anything with enough features will work. Lets use perceptron with the names of the couples as features*!

That's not allowed and has nothing at all to do with refitting the model for a specific dataset as you could do it at any time. You are to have a theory that justifies why variables go into the model (outside of explicitly described datamining). The concern is to minimize false positive findings even when using factors that may plausibly relate to your dependent variable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:07 PM
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203: I don't actually have one, just thinking from what I see on the shelves at the library. Coe Booth's Tyrell might be one good one and she's written a sequel. I think my semi-argument would be more like the books that are targeted to black/Latino/"urban" boys are about growing up and being responsible and the ones for/about white boys are about how everything sucks and I'm just trying to figure out who I am, man. I'm sure there are a billion exceptions to that, and I'm not counting all the rural white novels about either getting the hell out or deciding to stay.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:11 PM
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204: Does email help rather than talking? I had to write to Lee about three times today that I do in fact feel happy about some things and regretful about others at the very same time before she really understood what I was saying, when for me it seems absolutely normal to talk about ambiguous emotions and I don't think my emotions have to be "consistent" (scare quotes because I'm not sure I'm using it to mean what you're using it to mean) to be real.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:13 PM
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The statistics used to evaluate models take into account the number of variables used and the degree to which the model explains the variance. Using the names of the couples as variables would mathematically be the same as creating a separate dummy variable for each case giving you zero degrees of freedom and no model at all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:14 PM
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206: thanks, wil pass it on. She's doing a round table at MLA on YA, this will help.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:17 PM
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Email is a good suggestion. I'll suggest that we try it. Thanks! We used to email a lot, and things were smoother between us. I hadn't thought that there might be a relationship between those two things, because things are always smooth early on, unless you're disastrously incompatible or under great stress or something.

I don't mean that her emotions are inconsistent. Rather, it's what she says, e.g., "it would help if you did X when I do A" and "you should do Y when I do A", where X and Y are mutually exclusive. I'm sure there are better examples, but I can't think of any offhand.


Posted by: Stephen Kinnock | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:18 PM
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209: Feel free to pass along my email address or whatnot if you think my blather might be useful at any point.

210: That is hard, and actually the kind of situation I would cause too. I am someone who thinks in a lot of chained hypotheticals, so if when I do A you do X then I can think about what the various outcomes are and the BCD I'd have to do from there. If I do A and you do Y, then that leaves me EFG options and I might be equally okay with the two scenarios. I do think I'll sometimes tell Lee that I need her to do X or Y and she thinks I'm being stupid or not understanding things or else she'll do Z, which doesn't help me at all. If you can figure out what outcome she wants, that could help see what you could do to help or you can just avoid argument by saying "Okay, I'll try doing X and if that doesn't help you, please let me know and we can try to come up with other options." I am working hard on not arguing or perhaps more properly over-talking things because it drives Lee crazy, which is counterproductive.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:25 PM
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210.last: That kind of inconsistency suggests that neither X nor Y is what she really means.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:26 PM
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Intelligence is hard to describe in part because so much of it is linked to education. I don't think shiv is smarter than I am. But he's a hell of a lot closer than our respective educational backgrounds would indicate, and he is completely confident in technical and mechanical skills in a way that I won't be.

It's not just the ability to fix everything in the house. It's the confidence to know that if he takes X apart, and X turns out to be broken in a way he didn't anticipate, he'll just go to the garage and make the part that he needs, and it will all be fine, even if he's never seen X before.

204: What helps me -- as someone who basically argues things for a living -- is to keep in mind that winning the argument isn't the same as winning at the relationship. Sometimes it's okay, I tell myself, to shut the fuck up.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:36 PM
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Also, to the OP, I'm not so fond of relationship narratives that say who is "the smart one" or what roles each person plays. My parents had those kinds of narratives when I was growing up, and it ended up putting limits on what each person could do. It was the opposite of thinking "my spouse is better than me," it was that "my spouse is incompetent and only I can get this done." And there was never any possibility that the other person could learn or change. Also, I guess I am sort of sensitive about this, because my role in the narrative was the well-loved and foolish child, and I feel like I've been pushing back against the "foolish" label well into adulthood.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:40 PM
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Her education was minimal and undertaken mostly at home with 'short forays to small schools'. At 16 she was sent to Hackney to sit the junior exam of the Oxford Local Examinations Board, which she failed. 'Gott strafe Miss Jemima Goodman' (secretary of the exam board), 'Gott strafe Dalston Junction,' she wrote to her much loved governess Beryl Poignand. Thereafter she was dismissive of formal education. Much later, when Queen Mary remonstrated with her about the neglect of her own daughters' schooling she was unrepentant. 'I don't know what she meant,' Princess Margaret's biographer reports her having said, 'after all I and my sisters only had governesses and we all married well - one of us very well.'
This is the traditional idea of female smartness, as laid down by the Queen Mother (from the current LRB). Writing that, it occurs to me that this might look like credentialling. So can I just point out that I never got A levels, or, as Americans would say, graduated High School. Which makes me no smarter than the late Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, but not so good at picking the right parents.
Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:41 PM
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208: Model selection is a whole field, right? I admit I know nothing about it, but Gottman's work still seems bogus to me.

Alright, you got me to read, and not just skim the study cited by The Gottman Institute. Here's what seems wrong to me.

First, it's funny to call it "true prediction" when you're not actually making a prediction. In the study itself he actually says that it's "post hoc", which seems like the opposite of prediction to me.

Second, he starts out with some variables, runs a regression to find which variables correlate, and says that the variables he finds that correlate are meaningful. Isn't it inevitable that you'll find something? Especially since the final model is based on only 15 couples. Surely you'll be able to find some variables that "predict" the outcomes for 15 couples.

Then, if you look at how he arrives at the result, in fig. 3, it seems like there's one extreme outlier couple that dominates.

Also, the actual result seems odd. He's actually trying to "predict", in cases where the couple gets divorced, if the divorce occurs in the first seven years or not. Is divorce bimodal? A quick google search indicates that it isn't, and the risk of divorce slowly declines over time. Why 7 years and not 5 or 10? Here's a variable that he can set arbitrarily to boost his prediction rate.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:42 PM
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210 et seq: This is also classically one of the gender differences self-help writers point to: in caricature, that men see any description of a conflict as calling for a rational solution, whereas women just want their feelings acknowledged and see resolution as a secondary goal. Obnoxiously, women are also strongly socialized to "talk about their feelings," even though it is all too frequently counterproductive and hard to talk about feelings, and because there's so much pressure to verbalize from an early age people can learn to do it haphazardly and carelessly -- just for the sake of "talking about it." On balance, it's probably good to err on the side of oversharing rather than undersharing. But oversharing can be damaging too, and... that is why you ladies should all sign up for my Iron Jane retreats, where you give me $5000, we go up into the mountains, and we barely talk for a week. At the end of it, through introspection, you will know exactly what your problems are: there is not enough butane, and also too little sex.

Practically speaking, and the introductory half of this sentence is free, even a slightly more Socratic debate style might be useful. Or try to keep it in the first person: I prefer to do this, I'm not comfortable with this, this doesn't seem fair or just to me. Even if that "I" is a costume you inhabit for the duration of the argument -- it might be helpful for your partner to see it.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:56 PM
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I used to think I was super smart. Now I certainly don't. I feel, instead, that I am roughly on the smart-ish side of things. I think this adjustment is partly a function of being exposed to more genuinely smart people and partly a function of having discovered definitively how I would turn out. Back when I was eleven, for all I knew I would grow up to be really AMAZINGLY BRILLIANT! but, alas, it was not so.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 1:59 PM
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That is a downside of being a precocious kid, isn't it; the readjustment when you realize that you aren't going to be Mycroft Holmes when you grow up after all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:01 PM
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I think there's a cultural difference between machine learning and statistics where machine learning people use big flexible models, while statisticians use small rigid models. If you ran a regression of one variable on another, and you got an R^2 of 0.94, that's not overfitting, that's a miracle.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:02 PM
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My parents define "smart on different axes." The remarkable thing is that the way this plays out is that they're way smarter as a team than either of them is individually. My mother can come up with lots of ideas, some of which are brilliant and many of which are obviously terrible, but is very very bad at figuring out which of them are good, when to stop brainstorming, or how to fit things together coherently. My dad is very quick and good at deciding a reasonably good option out of some choices.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:03 PM
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the readjustment when you realize that you aren't going to be Mycroft Holmes when you grow up after all.

Yes, exactly.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:03 PM
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Deborah Tannen writes nicely about talking style differences between men and women. Her writing style is a little close to a magazine article, but I found her book You Just Don't Understand thought provoking and useful.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:03 PM
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Becks had a great post about that.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:05 PM
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I do wish I were in fact super smart, but I suppose the odds are it wouldn't actually make me happier.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:06 PM
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Ironically, I had the opposite experience of 218/219, because I was somewhat precocious but not brilliant. A side-effect of being surrounded by people who do IMO-type stuff is that it's easy to feel like the dumbest person in the room. Then I got to college and realized I was better at that stuff than most people. In the abstract, I realized that scoring in the 99th-%ile on standardized tests meant that I couldn't be that bad at everything, but I was worse at math, general abstract reasoning, memorization, etc. than literally every one of my close friends, so my gut feeling is still that I'm bad at all this stuff.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:09 PM
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Weirdly I've had a pretty constant self-conception of how smart I am. Until my mid-teens I thought I was the smartest person I'd ever met, and in my late teens I thought that I was somewhere between 5th and 50th best at math in the country in my year. And now I think... I didn't meet anyone smarter than me until I was 16, and I'm somewhere between 5th and 50th best at math in the country in my year. So no real readjustment really.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:10 PM
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I've actually never thought about wanting to be smarter than I am -- there's clearly room for it, but it never occurred to me.

The capacity to actually get some focused work done without avoiding it with every fiber of my being first, on the other hand? I long for passionately every day of my life. I still wouldn't be Mycroft Holmes, but man, would I have a lot more accomplished.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:10 PM
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216: You need to think of "predict" as meaning "explain" in this context. "Post hoc prediction" isn't an oxymoron with regression models. It's just considered a bit too casual language by some lights. What I think you are describing as "runs a regression to find out which variables correlate" is actually factor analysis. It isn't without problems, but it is a plausible way to reduce a large number of variables into a scale that can be used in a model. The N is certainly low, but it looks to me like reasonably well-constructed tests of alternative models. I'm not sure what the standards in that field are as far as statistical power. That would be too small of an N for anything but a pilot in my area, but the methods are reasonable if you're going to do an analysis with 21 cases.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:17 PM
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Hrm, forgot about this guy. That was probably my first experience of running into someone who was way way smarter than me on some particular axis, in 7th grade.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:18 PM
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220: Or you've accidentally tested a tautology.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:18 PM
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224 is comforting.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:19 PM
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229: That's fair. I should read up on 'actual' statistics. It still seems odd to me, but ML methods probably seem weird to stats people, too.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:22 PM
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My self-perceived smartness took a big hit when I went to college and then graduate school, and then went back up after I left academia.

But I would totally appreciate being smarter. I know I'd find uses for it, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't turn into a jerk.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:22 PM
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230: Hey, I (kind of) know that guy.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:26 PM
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Or try to keep it in the first person: I prefer to do this, I'm not comfortable with this, this doesn't seem fair or just to me.

"When you _____, I feel _____" is fucking bulletproof.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:29 PM
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Weirdly I don't, even though the internet suggests that we overlapped at Berkeley for quite a while. My email suggests we may have both been at the same party once.

Man was he scary at the geography bee.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:29 PM
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228.last: One of the thing I've slowly figured out growing up is that drive and persistence count for a hell of a lot more than intelligence. Drive more than anything seems to be the key to success.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:32 PM
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238: me


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:32 PM
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"When you miss me, I feel fucking bulletproof."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:34 PM
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233: Not weird, I just don't know what they are. The Wikipedia article mentioned "decision trees" and I know what those are, so I went from there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:35 PM
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238: With the caveat that the missing leg of the stool is always the vital one. There are people out there with forty times my work ethic who couldn't do my job. For them, more intelligence would help. For me, crippling laziness rather than insufficient brains is the bottleneck.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:37 PM
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242 nails it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:40 PM
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218 rings true for me.

"One day, you wake up, you find you're not the smartest guy in the world. You're never gonna come up with the big score."

says the Sam Shepard character in Days of Heaven.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:41 PM
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242 gets it right, with the added caveat that you shouldn't be using bottlenecks as stool legs.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:44 PM
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Sizist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:44 PM
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242 is inspiring me to stop reading this thread so I can get some work done.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:47 PM
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Looking only at the smarts axis, I was looking for someone smart enough to be interesting.

Asenath/DE was looking for someone who wasn't threatened by how smart she was and smart enough to be capable and interesting. I don't know which of us scored higher on the various IQ tests we got hit with but they couldn't have been much different.

It worked out for us but I have no idea how to determine that sort of compatibility absent extensive and intensive stressors testing and strengthening the bonds.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 2:53 PM
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For a while I've thought that I'm dumber, or maybe just less witty and thoughtful than everyone else here. But analyzing it while reading this thread made me think of an alternative: I've got worse over the years. Either the lack of stimulation at my current job is making me dumber, or my current job is normal and my previous one was unusually sharpening, or I'm so satisfied with my social life these days (sorry to humblebrag) that I don't feel the need to try so hard or show off around here.

On the issue of my intelligence in general, a Calvin and Hobbes strip is relevant.

Also, the first sentence of 121 to 120.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:16 PM
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At the meet ups I've discovered that not only is everyone here really smart, they are also good looking. It is a tough crowd to compare yourself here.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:20 PM
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236: Not entirely. My parents (both very smart but probably suffering from undiagnosed depression and/or anxiety) like to use feelings a lot to manipulate the behaviour of me and my siblings. E.g. "When you don't call every week, you make me so worried about your safety that I can't sleep" said to a 30 year old. So, when I had a roommate use that formation on me, I typically replied "...then you should adjust how you're feeling because that's not how I meant it".

Debate team really is the worst training for inter-personal relationships. I finally got to the point where I show emotions and will admit they might have an influence on my preferences and now my bf things that I'm too emotional.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:24 PM
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Here are some relevant links on Gottman:

http://blog.sethroberts.net/2010/06/06/can-john-gottman-predict-divorce-with-great-accuracy/

http://andrewgelman.com/2010/06/a_wikipedia_whi/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%253A+StatisticalModelingCausalInferenceAndSocialScience+%2528Statistical+Modeling%252C+Causal+Inference%252C+and+Social+Science%2529

He seems fishy to me. I read this book by him:

http://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Marriage-Dynamic-Nonlinear-Bradford/dp/0262572303

He just plays around with math for a while and comes to no real conclusion.

The other thing is that the positive and negative comments come from videotapes where the couples are discussing their biggest problem. Some problems are bigger than others so he may be just rediscovering that people with bigger problems when they marry are more likely to divorce.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:24 PM
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And my mom always said she wanted to marry a Catholic dancer, so we always knew to wish for the opposite of what really wanted.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:26 PM
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not only is everyone here really smart, they are also good looking

And all the children are above average. Where's Emerson?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:27 PM
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One of my deepest intellectual deficits is that I have a deep uninquisitiveness built on a combination of my sense that because someone else has thought deeper and better about most things, there's no need for me to wonder about them. I have a intellectual reflex to new problems that even if the answer's not known, I probably know someone who's thinking about it better than I could.

(It's definitely related to the fallaciously-competing-with-the-hivemind Unfogged Inferiority Complex.)

Mrs. K-sky does not have this, fortunately. I'm much more Jeopardy-smart than her, and I'm much more superficially interested in critical-intellectual responses, but she's actually much more naturally inquisitive.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:31 PM
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236: I've come to dislike the formulation "I'm not comfortable with...". At least in my circles, it is an absolute veto and can't be challenged. I always want to say two things. "Well, work a little harder and tell me the exact emotion and the real problem.". Those are a lot more addressable than some vague discomfort. My other response (in my head) is, "Discomfort isn't fatal. If you can't come up with something stronger than that, let's go with the plan presumably was suggested for decent reasons.". Mostly I want to break the power of the "I'm not comfortable with that" formulation.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:33 PM
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He just plays around with math for a while and comes to no real conclusion.

"Social science" is the preferred term for that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:36 PM
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253: An immobile Jewish person, a Protestant dancer, or an agnostic mathematician?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:38 PM
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"When you _____, I feel _____"

take off your pants; testicles


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:38 PM
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256L That's interesting -- I'd hear "I'm not comfortable with" as meaning something like "I've got a problem with [X] that I haven't been able to formulate clearly; maybe it's not worth bothering with but can we hash it over until it clarifies and I can figure out how much weight to put on it?" (Or, possibly, as a soft lead-in to a clear statement of what the problem is.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:43 PM
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what I'm saying at least sounds reasonable, even if what I'm thinking is an incoherent mess

This is probably a good thing to tell her.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:44 PM
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242

For academic success, I'd say that the stool is three-legged.
1. Smarts (which is just being a good computer - usually just a good memory and a fast processor).
2. Work ethic
3. Creativity

It pains me that I will not be a wildly successful academic because I have too much of 1, almost enough of 2, and not nearly enough of 3.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:45 PM
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252.2: The link to Gelman is discussing something different from the piece linked in 216 and that I commented on further. It was probably what sral was talking about in 180 and I have no read the works discussed there. They may indeed be some type of decision tree work where an independent sample is required.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:46 PM
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Around here, "I'm not comfortable with" is a negotiation ender, which I get real frustrated with.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:55 PM
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"When you _____, I feel _____" is fucking bulletproof.

In my ideal relationship, the second blank is automatically filled in "horny" and we have to resolve conflicts that way.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:55 PM
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264: ITYM "Around here, 'I'm not comfortable with' is a negotiation ender, and I'm not comfortable with that."


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:56 PM
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I'm not comfortable with doing the laundry, dear. Sorry.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 3:56 PM
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I should say that, nosfloW. Mostly I don't spend a lot of time with people who throw that trump card, but it does pop up in my larger circles.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 4:09 PM
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I should say that, nosfloW. Mostly I don't spend a lot of time with people who throw that trump card, but it does pop up in my larger circles.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 4:09 PM
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re: 262

Yeah. I think having a certain level of base ability is necessary but not remotely sufficient. My failure to be an academic [in the life-long career sense, I did finish graduate school] was partly 2, in the sense that I didn't work hard enough. However, the amount I'd have had to work was incompatible, I think, with the need to make a living and have a normal human life. As it was I was working _long_ hours.

However, you are missing:

4. Luck/opportunity.
5. Nepotism.

Most of the people I know who were as able as me or more able, and worked harder, also still have shitty jobs, or no jobs. And that's largely 4 and 5.

[Endless unfogged conversations past]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 4:13 PM
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Huh. "Comfortable" is often a euphemism for a moral sentiment: I'm not comfortable conducting corporate espionage, or voting for a convicted rapist, or x -- an ethical rather than (or in addition to being) an emotional position. I couldn't tell you why it came to mind as a stock first-person statement in a relationship talk. Relationships talks shouldn't have negotiation enders, it is true, apart from the obvious scenarios. (The idea of someone conceding the strength of a reasoned argument for polyamory, but still looking kind of glum about it... well, I'm charitably assuming that's not the issue here.)

But more to the point, I have no idea if 236 is sarcastic or not. If I had written it, I think I would have meant it sarcastically.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 4:38 PM
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can you tell us that again in a way that tells us how it's making you horny?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 4:46 PM
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I agree, text, my phrasing was awkward. There was a curious ambiguity in comment 236 -- "fucking bulletproof" could plausibly be used unironically -- so I hesitated before treating it as sarcasm. But was it also a distillation of my own, surely unhelpful advice? That is more worrisome. I shudder to think that I would ever advise anyone to express attraction to a significant other playfully.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 4:55 PM
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My BFF's husband is sitting in a car in front of their home with his stripper girlfriend while my BFF's children are fighting because one of them said something about the stripper that pissed off the litter one, who thinks the stripper is nice.

WTFingF?!


Posted by: Hillary Clinton | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 4:57 PM
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I fail to see how that's making you horny. Please try again, it's for the sake of communicating.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:05 PM
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Some strippers are nice, I've heard.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:08 PM
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You know who writes well? Herman Melville, that's who. I appreciate Carlyle more than I usually admit, though. And Hazlitt. Melville, Carlyle, Hazlitt. Yup.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:12 PM
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Melville certainly had a style of his own.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:16 PM
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Two approaches to not let debate-team habits ruin a relationship:

1. The debate-team approach: argue your partner's side. Probably a better exercise for you than your partner, if s/he feels inadequate in these discussions.

2. The really committed to the relationship approach: make your case honestly and then let your partner make the decision. This would be hard on me. You. The debater.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:38 PM
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lurid keriyaki, I was not being ironic, and I was riffing off of your "keep it in the first person." I wasn't being clear. "When you propose solutions to everything I talk about, I feel like you're skipping over understanding how I feel," for example. "When you criticize my mother, I feel like you're insulting me without taking responsibility for it."

It's a good way to connect someone's behavior to how you're feeling, and to avoid criticizing unknowable intentions. You probably don't mean to insult me. You probably want to understand how I feel. But somewhere between the emotion and the response falls the Shadow.

"Bulletproof" maybe sounds like it's manipulative, a perfect way to get what you want -- I meant more that it's a really good way to avoid defensiveness and communicate problems, because you're reinforcing the connection between the two of you. I had a therapist who said "stay on your side of the net," as in tennis. It's that.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:39 PM
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erm, lurid keyaki. Sorry.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:39 PM
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I also like "comfortable" as an expression of moral sentiment. I've heard it used to back off casual racism without raising the temperature. As relationship talk it fails for the reasons Megan articulates, although it is halfway there.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:42 PM
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`comfortable' is also used to defend racism, though. `I'm just not comfortable changing something that's worked so long', etc etc.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:49 PM
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Ah, got it. That's perfectly reasonable. It's a shame the form lends itself so easily to parody ("when you sell my jewelry to fund weekends with your lovers, I feel moral outrage"), because it is useful. I just had no idea how cynical you were/are.

(This is the weird part of my ridiculous pseud. I was happy to find one in a garden up the hill; this incident might border on the lurid, in fact.)


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:54 PM
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"When you pick up our kids with a stripper in the car..."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 5:59 PM
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Something just occurred to me: the frequency with which I had the thought, "man this place makes me feel dumb" dropped significantly when Lizardbreath changed jobs.

Watching LB really dig in on an argument is an intimidating thing.

[I am proud to say that I've only stepped into an argument on the opposite side from LB a couple of times, and each time I took a position that was heavily hedged, but I did hold my position each time.]


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 6:16 PM
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I'd suspected people found me less intellectually intimidating now that I'm a civil servant, but having it confirmed is still a little hurtful. I'll be weeping quietly to myself for a while.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 6:31 PM
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does baby need a tissue?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 6:36 PM
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Well, you have to admit, the Darth Vader mask added to the intimidation factor.

[* my archive-fu is failing me, but I remember you making a joke to that effect talking about the ethics of working for big tobacco.]


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 6:38 PM
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At least it was an easy transition moving from Death to Taxes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 6:40 PM
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Why choose? You could always do trusts and estates.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 6:45 PM
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I've really come to think that the whole idea of "smartness" is nonsense and is the product of a lot of over-praise of a particular UMC parenting and teacher style that was pretty common for kids who grew up in the US in the 1960s-1990s. If you're kind of a nerdy kid who does a bit better academically in school than others, you're defined as "smart" and especially if the rest of life isn't going that awesome you start to define yourself by your "smartness." But guess what, it's not that special -- pretty much every kid of that description thinks of themselves as really "smart." All it means is that you defined your identity at some point by being good at some particular kind of schoolwork, or your Mom did that for you.

At the end of the day, what matters is what you can actually do, in terms of results in whatever field you're involved in. Many many people who aren't "smart" or are less "smart" than you might think you are, are doing better in those fields than you are.

"I'm smart but lazy" is a bullshit crutch (albeit one that almost everyone I know uses, including me, this is how I've thought of myself for a long time). If you're not smart enough to get done the shit you need to get done, guess what, you're not that smart. There's no plausible definition of smart that ISBL works for; all it means is that your reach and ego exceed your grasp. You just suck (relative to your expectations) at what you do, and you should own that.

Personally, I like to hang out with people who are at least minimally knowledgeable about or interested in things that I'm interested in, which include some things like literature, politics, and history that people need some sort of academic background to really enjoy. But I don't think for a second that they are meaningfully "smart," and I don't really think of the Unfoggetariat as particularly "smart" either, just a bunch of people, some of whom have very impressive achievements and knowledge in particular fields.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:00 PM
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Is that the sound of the door hitting Robert Halford's ass?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:03 PM
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I think of most of unfoggers actually as exceedingly smart in a way that is not the same as credentials, although many of us have those. There are many super clear-thinkers here, who can distill complicated mushes down to the moving parts. That's a form of intelligence I value.

There are a ton of highly credentialed people who lack that, of course. Maybe it's that people here have good bullshitometers?


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:05 PM
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292: What happened after the 1990s?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:10 PM
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There are many super clear-thinkers here

I think there are a lot of people who are very good at boiling down blog-style debates into sentences in a way that work on blogs, at least for this community. I don't think that this can meaningfully be confused with "smartness," though, in any meaningful sense, although it does make this a fun place to read.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:11 PM
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295 -- there's kind of a taboo now on calling kids "smart." You just don't hear it. So presumably the children of the future will just have different neuroses.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:12 PM
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Admittedly, "a fun place to read" might indicate that I'm not that smart, unless I meant that read enjoys it, which I guess she does in her insane way.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:13 PM
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There's plenty else to indicate that without worrying over a gerund, RH.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:15 PM
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Another form of smart that I value highly is knowing yourself and checking in with yourself, and I think Unfoggers are pretty good at that.

Also paying attention to me means you're smart, and I get a lot of attention here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:20 PM
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there's kind of a taboo now on calling kids "smart." You just don't hear it. So presumably the children of the future will just have different neuroses.

"Gifted," "spirited," and "exceptional" neuroses, perhaps.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:20 PM
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"Indigo"?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:26 PM
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287: Well, your current employer (if I've surmised it correctly) can be pretty darn intimidating in certain types of proceedings.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:30 PM
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So hang on, Halford: is the idea of smartness nonsense, or does it retain enough sense to allow you to call people "not smart" or not "meaningfully" smart, as you do? If the latter, would you use it to describe anyone?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:34 PM
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If you're kind of a nerdy kid who does a bit better academically in school than others, you're defined as "smart" and especially if the rest of life isn't going that awesome you start to define yourself by your "smartness."

In grade school, I decided I was smart because I wasn't good at sports, and there were really only two roles available for boys: jock and nerd. Unfortunately, I didn't do well in school (for a variety of reasons, including simply not being super smart.) This left me without an identity at all. I was an untouchable, an outcaste.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:44 PM
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305.last: a loner Dotty, a rebel.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:53 PM
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Halford, I'm not sure I buy the idea that if something can't be measured by professional success then it doesn't exist. This might just be self-interest, I grant.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 7:59 PM
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Not just professional success. Obviously people have different aptitudes and interests. I just think the concept of (general) "smartness" is pretty much bullshit -- if your deal is eg that certain kinds of answers to math problems come easy to you but you sit around on the couch all day drinking, you're not "smart but lazy.". You have an aptitude in one area and other parts of your personality that are fucking up your ability to make use of that aptitude.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:13 PM
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To 304, I also think "not smart" is bs. Obviously some people are crappy in some areas, including reasoning in some contexts. It's fine to lament the failings of those people. But "not smart" is also a tricky and dangerous concept.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:15 PM
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I'm with Halford. As I read this thread, I was thinking of how important it used to be for me to think of myself as a smart person--and how baffled childhood me would have been by grown-up me, an actual College Professor who doesn't care anymore about being smart. Halford (and Helpy-Chalk!) explain why: because "smartness" as an identity, rather than an array of capacities, is really just a defense against unpopularity.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:16 PM
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I mean, we all fell in love the first time at our various nerd camps, right?


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:17 PM
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Maybe someone could whip up a script for you that substitutes "aptitude" for "intelligence" and "smarts".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:18 PM
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Okay, maybe there are no smart people. But we can all agree there are idiots, can't we?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:19 PM
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I do like LB's construction of two independent separate axes, one for how smart you are and one for how dumb you are.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:21 PM
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Although I no longer identify as smart, curiosity is still a big part of my personality. I can accept that I'm not smart, but if someone called me incurious, I'd be hurt. And, really, aren't most nerd cultures really about curiosity?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:22 PM
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if someone called me incurious, I'd be hurt

But would you ask why?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:22 PM
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But seriously. I agree that "smart" isn't a single thing. I agree that "smart" is usually heavily influenced by training and education. I agree that academic-smart isn't all that great, in and of itself. But how on earth are Helpy-chalk, Halford, and Mme. Merle not smart people?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:25 PM
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Next you all will be saying there's no such thing as funny and then it will come to blows.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:26 PM
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When you...act like an asshole,
I feel like...you're an asshole,
because...you're an asshole.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:30 PM
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292.3 strikes me as humpty-dumptyism.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:31 PM
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Some people have an aptitude for, say, physical comedy or humorous storytelling, but often their jokes fall flat, so I'd say there's no such thing as funny.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:32 PM
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I believe (controversially) that there are more dimensions to humor than cock jokes. And I've got credentials so I must be funny.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:36 PM
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"smartness" as an identity, rather than an array of capacities

Right. This.

Also, judging "capacities" is kind of inherently problematic, especially as a self-assessment. I mean, they exist, but it reminds me of all of the failed baseball prospects out there who were great but unproven "natural athletes." It turns out, most of them weren't, or at least not in any meaningful sense for what you'd want to use athletes for.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:40 PM
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my penas and butt.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:41 PM
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I mean, they exist, but it reminds me of all of the failed baseball prospects out there who were great but unproven "natural athletes." It turns out, most of them weren't, or at least not in any meaningful sense for what you'd want to use athletes for.

Well, I bet all of them were compared to, say, me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:41 PM
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Why does not being good enough to make the pros mean that they're not genuinely athletic? I don't know much about failed baseball prospects.

Also 324 made me laugh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:43 PM
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Let's debate the aptness of the analogy of athleticism to intelligence for several hundred comments GO!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:44 PM
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Sure, but beyond a little bit more than that judging their "capacity" (as opposed to their results with training and time) gets problematic very fast.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:44 PM
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Sure, and intelligence responds to training and time as well. I'm not going to defend some raw g firepower notion of smart.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:45 PM
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Two and three year olds are not smart, for adults. Hawaii stares at her sock in one hand and shoe in the other before deciding which to put on first.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:46 PM
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328 to 325. To 326, it's a (should be banned) analogy designed to describe how problematic it is to judge people based on their assumed capacities, rather than demonstrated performance. At a broad level, you can recognize capacity, and, sure, some have obviously more than others in some areas, but it's hard to do much beyond that.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:47 PM
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292.3 strikes me as humpty-dumptyism.

Well, Humpty Dumpty turned out fine, didn't he? What with all the men and the horses.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:50 PM
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I agree with you insofar as I think it's a total waste of time to assess someone else's intelligence in any comprehensive sense, even just as shorthand in my brain.

I will definitely think, though, "Oh jesus, that guy is standing up again at the faculty meeting...this is going to be a long stupid non-contribution" or other judgments on people's specific stupidities. I live to judge, after all.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:50 PM
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But "I'm smart but lazy", like "I'm athletic but lazy", is totally compatible with judging people, or even oneself, by actual attainments. Of course if someone just stamps his foot and declaims: "I'm smart, but I'm lazy, and that's why I've never amounted to anything", that is not very credible. But "I'm smart, and that's why I in fact did amount to several things, but I'm lazy, which is why I didn't keep it up/go as far as I might have" is not impossible. The response (which you seemed to be suggesting in 292) that if you were really smart you would have kept it up is absurd—it requires believing that there's only really one capacity involved in intellectual labor. Whereas one might think that what it takes to get going in an undertaking, and how easily one is diverted once gotten going, and how well (thoroughly, creatively, whatever) one navigates the problem areas, are all potentially independent.

The idea that the "smart but lazy" line only comes from people who wish to inoculate themselves from never having done anything, and who have taken "smart person" as the label by which they identify themselves, is rather straw-mannish.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:57 PM
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Halford, I agree that it can be hard to quantify, but I'm just not willing to agree that this means porn doesn't exist.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 8:58 PM
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I just mean that your "smartness" is probably unmeasurable or non-meaningful if you haven't been able to put it to use (in a way that you want to). "I coulda been a contenda" is just most likely bullshit, even if you may or may not have had some elements of what it takes to be a contenda, we'll never know because you failed to have the more important aspects.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:01 PM
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I mean, we all fell in love the first time at our various nerd camps, right?

Spot on. Made a slight sexual orientation error (hey, I was 16--gaydar takes time) but he was a lovely fellow and we only truly fell out of touch about three years ago.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:06 PM
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I'm not going to defend some raw g firepower notion of smart.

Are there neurologists looking in the brain for the spot where G is?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:07 PM
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I just mean that your "smartness" is probably unmeasurable or non-meaningful if you haven't been able to put it to use (in a way that you want to).

Ok, but "I'm smart but lazy" doesn't mean "I'm smart and I haven't got anything to show for it". It could also mean "I'm smart, but I have to work to overcome my bent to indolence to get concrete results".

It's also weird to think that your intelligence is "probably unmeasurable or non-meaningful if you haven't been able to put it to use (in a way that you want to)". Couldn't you care passionately about some social problem and lament that your considerable technical intelligence is of no use in tracting it?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:09 PM
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As I read this thread, I was thinking of how important it used to be for me to think of myself as a smart person--and how baffled childhood me would have been by grown-up me, an actual College Professor who doesn't care anymore about being smart.

As I read this thread, I was thinking of how important it used to be for me to think of myself as well off---and how baffled childhood me would have been by grown-up me, an actual rich person who spends money carelessly.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:11 PM
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I wouldn't make the argument that Halford's making, but I can see his point.

When I was younger (HS or college age) I remember thinking, at various times, "I'm smart enough that I feel like I could compete with many adults, given a situation in which my lack of experience wasn't a handicap. But, of course, that would be a somewhat artificial situation." Now that I'm older I think one important use of intelligence is the ability to learn from experience and apply those skills. My memory, say, isn't as good as it was fifteen years ago, but I'm much more productive, by many standards, because I've learned valuable lessons in the meantime.

So who's smarter, twenty-one year old Nick, or thirty-six year old Nick? Asking the question makes me think that Halford may be correct that it's silly to think about intelligence as an abstract quality, it's always situated.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:15 PM
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||

I've let myself get talked into applying for, to use Upetgi's metaphor, a bear. Just the one, so I guess I'm more likely than not to not get it and stay where I am. Still feeling kind of ambivalent about it, but I let people wear me down.

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:16 PM
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Well, 339 also runs into the shoals of there not really being a meaningful single definition of "smartness." I'd be OK with "I seemed to be pretty good in Math in school but didn't have enough of whatever to be a really good mathematician."

Couldn't you care passionately about some social problem and lament that your considerable technical intelligence is of no use in tracting it?

Sure, but that's not what "I'm smart but lazy" usually means. It generally means that "I have enough mental whateverness to achieve success, but I'm just not achieving it because I've decided not to work hard."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:16 PM
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Well, Humpty Dumpty turned out fine, didn't he? What with all the men and the horses.

No.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:17 PM
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So who's smarter, twenty-one year old Nick, or thirty-six year old Nick?

If there's going to be a pool, I'll take 51.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:19 PM
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If the yous and yours of 336 are I and my, I should clarify that I'm not claiming contenda status, and while I think I'm occasionally smart in certain areas, I'm aware that I'm also frequently dumb and am missing many more legs on my stool.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:19 PM
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308

... You have an aptitude in one area and other parts of your personality that are fucking up your ability to make use of that aptitude.

In other words you are smart but lazy.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:22 PM
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No, no, no, a general and nonspecific you and yours, also very much designed to include me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:23 PM
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If your stomach really smarts, sometimes your doctor will examine your stools.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:24 PM
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348 to 346. Shearer, OTOH, is kind of the definition of someone for whom the idea of "smartness" breaks down completely as a meaningful category.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:25 PM
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349: Maybe that's why German does so well in education and skilled work. They have toilets that practically beg you to examine your stool.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:27 PM
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I can still have recourse to "I'm smart but the victim* of an insane job market", right?

* in a sense


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:27 PM
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242: With the caveat that the missing leg of the stool is always the vital one

And then there's some stools missing all their legs, just a round piece of wood sitting on the ground. I saw some fellows last night at the bus stop who were (a) waiting for a bus, and (b) waiting for their friend to get some liquor at the liquor store across the street. They barely managed to accomplish both tasks. At one point they even convinced their friend, who was at the entrance to the liquor store, that he needed to go around to the side entrance, which is locked after 5 pm, as any local dipsomaniac should well know.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:28 PM
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311 I mean, we all fell in love the first time at our various nerd camps, right?

Oh no, not at all. That was at Science Olympiad.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:29 PM
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352: I'm the smart, but insane, job of the victim market.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:29 PM
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I was the ego of the applicant slain
By the false allure of a job market gone insane


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:33 PM
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OT: I no longer have anybody in Mexico mad at me. Or at least not anybody with my email address. Status quo ante.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:34 PM
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179

The one situation where it comes up is if we disagree about something important. My natural tendency is to have a debate and try to figure it out, but the end result is that she feels frustrated and says something like "you must be right because I can't come up with a counter-argument and what you're saying makes sense", which doesn't solve anything. In this case, it's not that I'm smarter but that I spent my formative years arguing with kids on the debate team. Undergrad and grad school were just more of the same, sans the debate team. I now know that it's a bad idea to try to reason out a conflict with her, but I have no idea how to resolve a conflict, if not through debate.

You shouldn't be having a debate, you should be having a discussion aimed at arriving at a course of action you can both live with.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:37 PM
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341: Or that "smartness" is an attribute expressed over time rather than instantaneously, so that younger Nick has more of the potency of smartness, while older Nick has more of the actuality.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 9:58 PM
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340: Oh no, Nosflow! I worried that I was somehow going to end up sounding obnoxious in that comment, and it seems that I did. But I do still think that there's something worth saying about "smartness as identity" versus "smartness as a set of capacities."

Smartness as identity feels like a relic of a time when I understood myself to be surrounded by/ oppressed by people who weren't smart, which is to say, when I was in junior high. Now that I'm not in junior high anymore, distinguishing myself from the non-smart no longer feels necessary or even interesting. Does any adult really spend time thinking about his or her general smartness, rather than, say, about which capacities he or she can exercise--and which still need to be developed?

Funniness, of course, is totally different. Funny is one thing, and that thing is Heebie.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:00 PM
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Does any adult really spend time thinking about his or her general smartness, rather than, say, about which capacities he or she can exercise--and which still need to be developed?

I bet. We (collectively) just might not come into contact with that many of 'em.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:05 PM
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Funny is one thing, and that thing is Heebie. — Faraday (Chemical History of a Candle)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:08 PM
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At nerd camp I fell for a girl named "Cathie". The subtle nonconformism of a 13-year-old named Katherine who insisted on being called "Cathie", spelled "Cathie", was irresistable.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:14 PM
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I briefly toyed with attempting to implement an alternate spelling of my real-life first name. I decided against it, but it was a tough couple weeks in eighth grade.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 5-12 10:25 PM
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286: Huh, you're right. Watching LB argue in the old days was terrifying. Each little statement the other person made would be used to cut down all future maneuverability in the argument. It was like watching a python swallow a goat.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 12:21 AM
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re: 343

I would push back very very strongly against the idea that 'smartness' is sufficient for success, and if you don't have it, it's because you weren't smart enough or were lazy. That feeds into the poisonous culture that's rife in academia (and 'tournament' professions in general), with people who are qualified-and-able by any sane standard being forced into shitty low-status, low-pay, insecure, long-hours jobs. The reason they are in shitty jobs isn't because they weren't smart enough, or were lazy.

Sure, the 'I coulda been a contenda' rhetoric is often bullshit, or delusional. But you can take the argument too far the other way, too.

'If you haven't demonstrated total success in field X [the field you want to be successful in], then you weren't smart enough (or were lazy)' is bullshit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 1:55 AM
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"smartness" as an identity, rather than an array of capacities, is really just a defense against unpopularity.

And I'd call bullshit on this, too. Which may be an artefact of the US school system. It wasn't my experience of school that 'smart' kids were particularly unpopular. There were one or two odd socially awkward academic high-achievers [and a few socially awkward academic low-achievers] and maybe those people adopted the (false) believe that they were unpopular because they were 'smart', but the bulk of the academic high-achievers were part of the mainstream of kids and just as popular as anyone else. Their popularity or lack thereof was entirely orthogonal to their academic ability.

It might well be that 'smartness' as a general identity is indeed fairly bullshit, and that specific capacities are what matters [I'd probably agree here], but I'd be really wary about projecting US junior high on to the world.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 2:01 AM
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Smartness-as-identity is something I hope to grow out of, and from time to time do. It was a huge feature of my childhood, simply because that is where my parents fitted into the imperial class system, where there were a limited number of slots in the foreign office for people who were not born into the ruling classes, but had been socialised to pass, and for whom intelligence of particular sorts was the guarantor of their place. I suppose in that sense we were the spiritual descendants of mediaeval clerics who rose to be cardinals, though originally the sons of tradesmen.

My daughter ("did I mention she's at Cambridge?") hates smartness-as-identity with a passion but though I can see her point and although I feel that she is a better person than me because of this (among many other things) I also believe that she's rejecting something valuable about herself which is perhaps best described as smartness-as-a-sense-of-humour. That's not at all the same as snark. It's more something that's hugely on display here: a passion and facility for disassembling things and putting them back together in absurd ways. Apostopher and Sifu, to quote the two people who make me laugh most reliably. It's a taste for absurdity got by seeing unobvious things about the world. And of course the gift of seeing the unobvious is one of the things that is meant by smartness, although it often goes with a gift for ignoring the obvious, which is a pretty good proxy for stupidity. Perhaps it's just a taste for playing with ideas. Some people never get beyond playing, or do so in silly ways. But there are others who just can't do it at all, and the distinction between them and us is worth preserving.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 2:26 AM
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Watching LB argue in the old days was terrifying. Each little statement the other person made would be used to cut down all future maneuverability in the argument. It was like watching a python swallow a goat.

This is great.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 4:51 AM
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Does any adult really spend time thinking about his or her general smartness, rather than, say, about which capacities he or she can exercise--and which still need to be developed?

Isn't MENSA an entire organization for such people?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 4:57 AM
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365: I'm starting to feel a bit like a stroke victim, trying to figure out how bad the damage is. Possibly people have just not been as wrong lately?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 5:10 AM
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371: Maybe you have less of a need to destroy people utterly?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 5:11 AM
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I think there are fewer blowhards, and people are slightly better about making more scaled-back outrageous claims. I'm pretty sure you can and do still eviscerate goats over at CT.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 5:14 AM
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I'll swear my underlying hostility level hasn't dropped a bit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 5:23 AM
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The goats have just gotten cannier.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 5:29 AM
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There's more to smartness than just memory and speed. I'm not quite sure how to phrase it, but some people understand structures, and some people really have a lot of trouble with it. Being able to distinguish between similar but different things, being able to follow an argument, being able to figure out which examples are useful for answering which questions, recognizing patterns, etc.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 6:30 AM
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374

I'll swear my underlying hostility level hasn't dropped a bit.

If so you appear to have found other outlets for it. Biking to work maybe.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 6:34 AM
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In many ways though, more fundamental than "smartness" is curiosity. If you're genuinely interested in learning things, and if you're not willing to give up until you know answers, then with practice you're likely to end up developing what we think of as smartness (without necessarily the speed part).


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 6:34 AM
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378

In many ways though, more fundamental than "smartness" is curiosity. If you're genuinely interested in learning things, and if you're not willing to give up until you know answers, then with practice you're likely to end up developing what we think of as smartness (without necessarily the speed part).

I don't really agree with this. For one thing the definition and measurement of "smartness" may be a little problematic but it seems a lot better than what we can currently do regarding a "curiosity" attribute.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 7:01 AM
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It was like watching a python swallow a goat.

I don't know about the rest of it, but this, yes.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 7:34 AM
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I can still have recourse to "I'm smart but the victim* of an insane job market", right?

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.


Posted by: OPINIONATED KOHELET | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:44 AM
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365: IMX, one gets tired of both a steady diet of swallowing goat and of watching one being swallowed. After a while, shruggism sets in and even true masters of the art (LB & some others I know) devote less energy to doing so and move on to something else.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:02 AM
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365: IMX, one gets tired of both a steady diet of swallowing goat and of watching one being swallowed. After a while, shruggism sets in and even true masters of the art (LB & some others I know) devote less energy to doing so and move on to something else.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:02 AM
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What? What? Now I have to get checked for Parkinson's again! Damnit!


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:03 AM
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WELL, TIRED OF SWALLOWING GOATS, MAYBE


Posted by: OPINIONATED MICKEY KAUS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:07 AM
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Possibly people have just not been as wrong lately?

I just assumed that you have less time to spend arguing on the internet now. I'm sure you'd be just as scary if you were fully engaged, but it's harder to get you engaged these days.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:10 AM
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Actually, I really have been feeling mentally sluggish for a while; like, a disturbingly long while. It's genuinely worrying me a little having people comment on how I used to be different. Possibly I'll let the rest of you discuss smartness while I sit here with my mouse that doesn't remember how to run the mazes anymore.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:13 AM
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We'd stopped discussing smartness and were reminiscing about goat swallowing skills: don't you remember?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:19 AM
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I've been having trouble with that sort of fine distinction. Probably a lack of goat in my diet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:21 AM
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Don't they have any goats in your part of the country? If not you might consider heading westward.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:23 AM
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Oh, there's always goats. It just seems as if it's too much work unhinging my jaw these days.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:25 AM
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You probably never got enough thanks for it. Goats are often stupid that way.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:28 AM
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Oh, there's always goats. It just seems as if it's too much work unhinging my jaw these days.

We call this "mental 'oh, whatever'ness".


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:28 AM
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I was wondering if anyone was going to go there. Don't say I never left out any low hanging fruit for you all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:29 AM
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Wait, this isn't the porn thread?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:31 AM
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Way to take away my sense of satisfaction, there, LB.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:33 AM
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"Suddenly this low-hanging fruit is as ashes in my mouth."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:34 AM
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I should stop cleaning it with pumice.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:37 AM
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I do not typically unify X with "jaw" when unifying the triple (goats, unhinge, X) with my expectations.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 1:52 PM
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What does X unify with, then? Shub-Niggurath?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 1:57 PM
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"Anus", obviously.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 2:03 PM
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I'm sorry to have missed this discussion, but oh my, 368 is worthy of consideration. Thanks, Nworb.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 6:46 PM
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387

Actually, I really have been feeling mentally sluggish for a while; like, a disturbingly long while. It's genuinely worrying me a little having people comment on how I used to be different. Possibly I'll let the rest of you discuss smartness while I sit here with my mouse that doesn't remember how to run the mazes anymore.

You don't come across as dumber just less combative (and engaged with Unfogged). Which I assumed was because you are no longer stuck in a job you hate. I wouldn't worry about being a happier person with better things to do than argue with internet weirdos.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 7:18 PM
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I never went to any nerd camps, though I took some summer classes for kids who wanted to take summer classes. I crashed and burned horribly at some extracurricular math competition in jr high. I was right on the margin of moving on after the written portion, but then there was some one-on-one component in front of an audience where they projected some problem on a screen and whoever solved first in under a time limit won. I was completely unprepared for anything like that and had a caught in the overhead light-type reaction and I think I barely managed to even read the question. I don't know if the other kid answered it, but I know I guessed wildly and failed. This didn't prevent me from continuing to like math or even taking extra math to get ahead of the standard track but I stayed away from academic competition after that.

The other competitor from my school I think did the same as me in the written and got one oral question so she moved on. I think the perception at school coming in was that I was "smarter" but that probably wasn't true.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 8:11 PM
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'Smart' has always been a huge part of my identity, for the usual problematic reasons (aptly adumbrated above by others), and it certainly hasn't done me any favors. This has only gotten worse lately, because its continuing centrality to my sense of self seems horribly inappropriate to my current life-station, but I'm unable to find anything with which to replace it. Reading a paper on, say, a Hegelian model of legal concept determination seems off somehow.

And I think my attempts to rationalize what's really a gut-level, quasi-aesthetic, almost feudally elitist, caste-system-appropriate reaction ('only Brahmins should study the holy books; I'm no longer a Brahmin; therefore my touch profanes them'--paging Dr. Hai/dt!) actually make things worse. I come up with superficially-plausible arguments ('the worth of social-science/philosophy derives from its ability to improve our lives, collectively or severally; given that I no longer occupy a position in the social structure where such knowledge, even if I had it, could be put to such a use, pursuing those interests would be self-indulgent; worse yet, it would be a self-indulgence of a particularly contemptible sort, since unlike other indulgences [e.g. drugs, sex, dancing, professional sports fandom] it carries with it pretensions of being somehow elevated') that effectively destroy any pleasure I might actually take in engaging in such intellectual dilettantery, without however bringing any compensating benefit (e.g., motivation to explore new or previously neglected interests).

Also, I need to make my sentences shorter and less convoluted.

I'll finish by getting back a bit to the OP: while it's obviously a huge win for humanity that it's now largely acceptable for a woman to be 'the smart one' in a relationship, I worry that the increasingly homophilous household-formation that the dissolution of this constraint (or rather, the package of shifts in gender relations of which this is one part) enables has been a real driver of income/status inequality, and will play an even larger role in the next generation or two. The sort of smartness we're talking about here is, above all, the smartness of bosses and managers and professionals: a facility with abstraction that's absolutely necessary when one's spot in the hierarchy means that dealing with facts-on-the-ground as anything *but* tokens to be analyzed as parts of a system would be cognitively overwhelming (since there's just too much there). A world where bosses and professionals not only socialize with but also marry primarily their own sort, adds a further mechanism for class reproduction that may have been slightly blunted when bosses just looked for pretty faces who would be good mothers, no? (Then again, this conjecture relies on a bunch of empirical claims that may be entirely bullshit; I haven't bothered googling around to see if my stylized facts about increasing homophily are even approximately true. And I recognize that the modal pairing was that the boss/professor marries another boss's/professor's daughter, etc.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 9:56 PM
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Also, I need to make my sentences shorter and less convoluted.

Nonsense.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:01 PM
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403: Exactly so.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:02 PM
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I'm so sorry, x. trapnel, to hear that you're feeling that your intellectual life is a self-indulgence. For what it's worth, I've learned a great deal from your posts about political theory (I'm even coming around to selection by lot!), and so if teaching random people on the internet to think in new ways counts as a social good, then you're definitely doing one.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:08 PM
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I was often treated as a "smart kid" growing up, especially at school, but my parents were very careful to avoid doing this, and probably due to that I didn't end up making it a core part of my identity. Looking at the problems other people seem to have with "smart" as identity, and how easily I can see myself in that situation if things had gone differently, I'm pretty thankful I turned out the way I did.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:13 PM
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408: that does make me feel somewhat better. Thanks for saying so.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:14 PM
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I adopted weird as an identity. Smart probably would have been better for my social life once I'd reached a certain age.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:21 PM
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The identity I did end up adopting is based mostly on my family history and geographic rootedness. It's never been particularly useful socially, but it's been quite resilient through the many changes in my life over the years.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:31 PM
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I'm rather familiar with the feeling described in 405.2. I had a sickening realization several years ago when it occurred to me that it was no longer worth anyone's time and effort to educate me.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 10:45 PM
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Great thread. Also, text is getting funny again!

292 strikes me as protesting too much, Halford. If you really dropped the overvaluation of 'smart' that you correctly criticize, couldn't you just take pleasure in the particular mental capacities you have and whatever achievements they have brought you? If you and your friends were decent long distance runners (maybe raced college varsity, still won some local races, qualified for the Boston marathon), you wouldn't strenuously insist that you weren't athletic just because you never made the Olympics/happened to be lousy at non-running sports.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:26 PM
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It's not so easy to separate laziness and capacities. We enjoy working at what we are good at and when it's a painful effort to do something you usually can't sustain the effort. There is an independent capacity for discipline, sure, but I'm not certain it's as simple as 'laziness'. There are lots of personality traits that affect the pleasure we take in certain work styles, and a lot of life is finding a work style, setting, and type of production that matches your personality quirks. Academia is not that setting for lots of smart people (it wasn't for me).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:31 PM
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The sort of smartness we're talking about here is, above all, the smartness of bosses and managers and professionals: a facility with abstraction that's absolutely necessary when one's spot in the hierarchy means that dealing with facts-on-the-ground as anything *but* tokens to be analyzed as parts of a system would be cognitively overwhelming (since there's just too much there).

This is brilliant. I don't believe in a generalized 'smartness' but only particular mental capacities that fit particular situations, and are often counterproductive in other situations. This is a great description of a particular type of abstract reasoning we valorize but actually produces a characteristic kind of stupidity as well.

Speaking of smarts and stupidity, I have a private pet theory I call the 'saving stupidity'. It's that anyone really successful, even in an intellectual field, has a capacity to ignore the reasons why their work may be misguided or foolish...to ignore all the valid objections to the direction they are taking and just be singleminded. Kind of a strategic blind spot or a characteristic pigheadedness. This is related to the observation that extremely successful people are often assholes.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:38 PM
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414 last -- I don't have a problem with the old runners feeling like they'd once been pretty good runners. Just with the idea that they were "natural athletes" who could have done better except for a failing of effort.

Trapnel, I hope that feeling doesn't last. One of the great pleasures in life is learning things, and one of the great advantages of leaving higher education is being able to re-experience learning as a pure pleasure, without anxiety about credentialing or the uses to which your reading will be put.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 6-12 11:59 PM
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I love the saving stupidity theory, as it flatters me that my lack of success owes to a lack of stupidity and assholishness.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:28 AM
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Trapnel, I also hope that feeling doesn't last. Thinking about the world in the light of the understandings previously and painfully won by our ancestors isn't about being "smart". It's about being the best humans we can be. I think about my father marched off after Dunkirk to four years down and around a Silesian coal mine in an other ranks prisoner of war camp, with a volume of Plato and a volume of Goethe in his knapsack. He wasn't going to get any use out of either, really -- you try talking to your prison guards in the language of Goethe. He certainly wasn't going to exercise his executive gifts as a lance corporal (acting). But it was still the right, perhaps the saving thing to keep those books with him and keep on reading.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 2:01 AM
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NW's comment is great, especially about keep on reading, i can recommend that too, being intelligent and practically smart are different things, not to blame only one's lazyness or that lack of concentration or ambitions, smart to succeed especially, it's either some stupid undeserved luck or a lack of moral convictions, succeeds just someone smart enough to want to reach any kind of power by usually all means and who is willing to abuse that power in order to continue to be successful and that kind of smarts is measured in money of course, how much they make
too bad if one's intellectual pursuits are felt to be pretensions, dont pretend and everything will fall perhaps into that, place, of the clear scale of values
maybe i should read more carefully people's comments when i happen to read them cz never knew that certain people can be funny, they joke! all they i thought do was complaining or talk about dates, but that's what blog threads are for of course, to vent off one's frustrations
but pgd's comments i enjoyed as always unlike many flattery to each other comments upthread, sounds embarrassing, that must be the smarts of making friends around here, in my culture a proverb says let the praise of one to others be silent and/or when one is absent and reproach one openly, but not the other way around


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 4:59 AM
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That's an amazing story about your father, Nworb Werdna. It reminds me of the chapter from *Survival in Auschwitz,* maybe your father knows it?, that describes Primo Levi teaching another inmate the canto of Ulysses from the *Inferno.* He's doing it from memory, of course, and he realizes that he's forgotten some of the lines; the chapter ends with him saying he'd have given his ration of bread that day to recall them. It's really one of the most moving accounts of the power of literature that I've ever read, and when I used to teach a year-long western lit survey, we'd end with that scene.

(Well, actually we'd end with that scene paired against Jean Amery's essay "The Intellectual in Auschwitz," which says . . . . quite the opposite. But I like to think I'd be on Levi's side).


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 6:51 AM
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403.2: Shearer speaks truth.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 7:02 AM
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419: I think that both Plato and Goethe would have considered that a more valid use of their work than having some professor study it in a university in order to get tenure.

I love the saving stupidity theory, as it flatters me that my lack of success owes to a lack of stupidity and assholishness.

That is a side benefit of the theory that I enjoy as well. The implication is also that many smart people need to turn off or at least tone down their internal critic in order to focus.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 7:19 AM
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403, 422: Thanks; this is something that I've been worrying about a bit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 7:24 AM
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405.2 Lots of people have a run of bad years. don't give up. Also, you might enjoy either Boethius or Epictetus.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 7:38 AM
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424. It's a thing I've observed in myself and my contemporaries that from about the age I take you to be onward, people increasingly care less and less about other people being wrong on the internet. It isn't that you become more mellow in yourself, rather that you increasingly accept the impossibility of doing anything about it and focus your energies on other stuff. That, or you turn into Victor Meldrew (Hilton Lucas?)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 7:47 AM
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re: 423

Yeah. I'm not sure about it as a general theory, but I can think of at least one academic episode where I was completely crippled by the inability to turn off the internal critic. So psychologically, it has a certain plausibility.

I spent about a year writing and rewriting and then rewriting again a single chapter from my thesis in response to a request from the examiners that I do so. I'm pretty sure I'd addressed all of their problems with it* within the first couple of weeks, but I just couldn't stop.

* they were full of shit, and with several years of hindsight, and that year of rewriting, I still think I was right and they were full of it for partisan reasons.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 7:48 AM
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re: 426

Definitely that, yeah.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 7:53 AM
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I'm debating trying to start a company to strike out on my own but am currently crippled by the internal critic. So many things to go wrong, so much to learn. Ugh.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 7:54 AM
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Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.

- Su Dongpo (11th century)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:00 AM
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trapnel, I have no idea what to say to you because that's very much how I feel too. I'm sorry you're wrestling uncomfortably with it. I'll probably be back in that boat soon when we stop fostering and I have to stop telling myself I have a meaningful identity thanks to that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:16 AM
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It wasn't my experience of school that 'smart' kids were particularly unpopular.

I think a big part of the question lies in how "popular" is defined. Thinking in the middle school context, there's that set if kids whose "popularity" is largely defined by their readiness to declare themselves gatekeepers to the World of Cool. Other kids who are hungry for external approval vie to be part of the "popular" group and place outsized importance on their admission to or exclusion from the group. Popular kids and dorks may, individually, have the same number of friends and may be equally well liked among their peers. I think where I'm going with this is that being "popular" gets conflated with being well-liked. Lots of kids are "unpopular" in this sense and the real issue is figuring out that it doesn't actually matter much.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:23 AM
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anyone really successful, even in an intellectual field, has a capacity to ignore the reasons why their work may be misguided or foolish...to ignore all the valid objections to the direction they are taking and just be singleminded. Kind of a strategic blind spot or a characteristic pigheadedness.

and

I'm debating trying to start a company to strike out on my own but am currently crippled by the internal critic. So many things to go wrong, so much to learn. Ugh.

...are related phenomena. It is empirically established that successful entrepreneurs are irrationally optimistic about their chances of success. You have to be, because anyone who begins with a realistic appraisal of the statistical likelihood of success does not go out and start a business.

I have heard it claimed that the personality trait that best predicts success in sales is constitutional optimism. The ability to maintain the belief that things will get better is what permits a salesperson to persevere in the face of continued failure (failure being generally more frequent than success in sales). Pessimists are prone to interpret failure as evidence of their own incompetence, and to give up, whereas optimists tend to attribute setbacks to transient, external causes.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:30 AM
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I have heard it claimed that the personality trait that best predicts success in sales is constitutional optimism.

There are a couple of people I get along well with who have been in sales, but generally I find it difficult to be around anybody who does that type of work. Probably my issue is with the optimism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:36 AM
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434. Great! On the basis of your message, I'll just blast out an email that everything's working fine and the problem is solved now.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:39 AM
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You have to be, because anyone who begins with a realistic appraisal of the statistical likelihood of success does not go out and start a business.

Exactly. It's about a 15% success rate for startups in the area I'm looking at. One in seven, roughly.

I have a friend who is no smarter than me but has an insanely high regard for his own abilities and intelligence. His startup came within literally days of failure before picking up and now doing quite well. I'd have been driven completely mad by the stress.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:42 AM
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435: Yep. Certain people have me trained to never send anything in an email message that could possibly be construed as a "yes" by a careless reading. And to cc either their boss or mine on every message.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:51 AM
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I have a friend who is no smarter than me but has an insanely high regard for his own abilities and intelligence. His startup came within literally days of failure before picking up and now doing quite well. I'd have been driven completely mad by the stress.

Yes. This is obvious but this is why it helps so much for entrepreneuruses to be wealthy, or come from wealthy families.* Then this level of stress (which is common in startups) is stressful because they are competitive and want their venture to be successful, not because failure means their life will collapse.

* Part of why, at least--easier access to capital is another signficant advantage.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:57 AM
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437. Indeed. Never send an email from work without witnesses.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:59 AM
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433: You have to be, because anyone who begins with a realistic appraisal of the statistical likelihood of success does not go out and start a business.

And yet, people who have well-established businesses, especially those they've inherited, seem to be able to fuck up in every way possible without going out of business.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 8:59 AM
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What's the name of that other phenomenon where successful people are held back by feelings that they are frauds? I just got an informal preview of my year-end performance appraisal from my boss, which bordered on gushing. Pointing to one particular accomplishment, he said this was a testament "not only to [my] intelligence, but to [my] work ethic."

While I am pleased to have successfully concealed my sloth from the higher-ups, I struggle with Lizardbreathian levels of task avoidance, and with the dread that it will eventually catch up to me (as it has, on occasion, in the past). I wish there were a pill I could take (no suggestions, please; I've tried them all).


Posted by: W. Averell Harriman | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 9:18 AM
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441: Impostor syndrome, and I just got one of those evaluations as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 9:20 AM
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I just evaluated the new guy, very positively. I feel like a fraud as a supervisor, but that's because HR has stupid forms.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 9:22 AM
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The particular accomplishment in 441 was ideally suited to reflect well on a "smart, but lazy" individual. I can appreciate how someone might think it took more diligent effort that it did.


Posted by: W. Averell Harriman | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 9:24 AM
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The particular accomplishment in 441 was ideally suited to reflect well on a "smart, but lazy" individual.

I assume this was some sort of software coding.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 9:25 AM
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441: I basically feel the same way as you, but one thing I realized when I started supervising other people a lot is you're probably not actually that much more work avoidant than other people, you're just self-aware and feel guilty about it, while they're oblivious and consider themselves extremely hard-workers. You dread that your concealed sloth will eventually catch up with you because you don't realize that your coworkers are all even more slothful; the occasions in the past when it has caught up to you are basically regular occurrences for them. (That's why your reviews are glowing.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 9:31 AM
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That's just a guess, obviously, but I bet it's right.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 9:32 AM
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441 is near universal here, I think. And, on preview, almost totally pwnd by Urple.

I used to think I was pretty lazy at work. Everyone else thinks I'm really productive, because I always respond to emails more or less instantly -- being able to read really fast, and type fast has miracle powers for deceiving others -- and I also deal with urgent stuff right away. That started as a defensive mechanism as I was worried my procrastinatory tendencies would let people down and I'd be found out. So I've had years of thinking I'm fundamentally lazy, and kidding everyone. But, it turns out, answering all emails right away and dealing with all urgent problems right away, isn't the illusion of productivity. It is productivity. And any less important tasks that I skip, no-one gives a shit about anyway.

Once I started getting higher up the chain and having something of an overview of other people's work, I realise that many/most of them don't achieve that level of productivity. Some of them are better at lots of individual tasks, and have more skills in certain areas, and none of them are really bad at their jobs. But of the twenty or so people I work with, there's basically three of us I'd rely on to get work done on time, without major fuck ups and without supervision.

Despite that, my self image is still that I'm something of a lazy chancer.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 9:34 AM
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one thing I realized when I started supervising other people a lot is you're probably not actually that much more work avoidant than other people, you're just self-aware and feel guilty about it, while they're oblivious and consider themselves extremely hard-workers.

No, to the contrary, I have extremely diligent (and bright) people working under me. I have been fortunate to be able to step in at a few opportune moments with flashes of insight (informed by my longer experience) that magnified the impact of their hard work substantially without a whole lot of effort on my part. So we all ended up looking pretty good. I just wonder how much longer my luck will hold out, you know?


Posted by: W. Averell Harriman | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 9:43 AM
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448: And any less important tasks that I skip, no-one gives a shit about anyway.

I wish this was the case for me. Instead, I can carry out all of my major job functions perfectly, and if there's one little thing I miss, they're all over me with the "Why didn't you remember to forward that email to person F, when you forwarded it to persons A, B, C, D, and E?"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:08 AM
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Engineers are supposed to be lazy, just long-term lazy, like ttaM. (When in doubt, try a low-pass filter.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:11 AM
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re: 450

The culture of my workplace isn't really like that, thankfully. And I'm senior enough [not very senior, but it's a fairly flat hierarchy] that I can make decisions without reference to bosses on most things. So if I said, 'I didn't do X because I thought it was pointless, and it was much better that I do Y' it would be a very unusual situation indeed where anyone would question that. It would be very unusual that any of my bosses would have any kind of detailed view of what I do anyway.

'Is project X on target for date Y', or 'Are we going to let down funding body Z, or important donor P' would be the sorts of things they'd ask. Anything at much finer grain than that, I have carte blanche.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:40 AM
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I've worked in places in the past where bosses like to have a very tight overview of what people do. It's shit. I suspect my current work place goes slightly too far the other way.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:45 AM
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Pessimal is bosses who alternate randomly between the two. (cough, cough)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:46 AM
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The most effective manager I ever worked for used to answer the question "Can I have Tuesday week off?" with "I don't know. Can you? You know what you've got to do and by when."

Of course his greatest talent was recruiting people he could rely on to work like that. Once or twice he misjudged or had some loser wished on him, and it went well pear shaped.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:51 AM
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re: 454

I suspect I'm a bit like that as a boss.

'Is $thing ready?'
..
'Why not?'
..
'You couldn't work out how to do it?'
..
'Why didn't you ask me?'
..
'OK, here's an incredibly detailed list of tasks broken down into baby steps, and I am going to check on them as if you are 6 years old.'

[two weeks pass]

'Is $other_thing ready?'

Repeat.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:52 AM
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re: 455

Yeah, my immediate bosses are basically like that. It works for some of us, and not for others. Sadly probably more of my colleagues need tight supervision than are currently getting it -- at least partly because of contradictory demands placed on them by multiple bosses -- and if I'm not careful the person who gets tasked with providing that tight supervision will be me. I'd do it if it'd mean a lot more money [which it won't], but it's a shitty job.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 10:56 AM
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431: And Thorn, I'm sad to hear you say that as well. I don't want to intrude and feel free to ignore me if I am, but I had been thinking that your struggles with Lee over whether to adopt or foster more children must be particularly difficult because fostering, for you, is not simply a way of making a family (as it seems to be for Lee), but is also your true vocation. That, coupled with the fact that you don't describe yourself as being very compelled by your job, makes me wonder whether it might make sense for you to train for a job working with children in foster care, as a social worker or a legal advocate or something like that.

And now that I've stuck my nose into your career choices as well as your partnership, let me hasten to butt right back out!



Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:32 AM
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456: Yup, I do that too, on occasion.

I suppose it's a mitigating factor that I've only been managing people for about a month.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:37 AM
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458: Nah, that's exactly what my thinking is and Lee's lines up pretty well with it. I have a friend who's just finishing her counseling degree who's been pushing me to go for that. If I could do social work theory, I think I'd be interested in going that way in school because I think I'd have fun on the best practices. But I'm going to be snobby about to what extent I think I could be an effective caseworker when it comes to working with the other caseworkers and all the paperwork and whatnot. I don't think I'd like having to work my way up the hierarchy, which I realize is a stupid reason not to get involved since I think we need better caseworkers.

I'm on a committee that's structuring some of the trainings for next year and I'll be teaching at least one session, so that will be a start on moving from the practice side of fostering to something else. I just think I'm not exactly cut out for things like helping run the support group because I often don't want to support what the other foster parents are doing, and that's where the retired foster parents who still want to be involved usually seem to go. It's not clear yet.

And the person in charge of the committee is also in charge of the local university social work program, where there's some sort of Master's that you can get paid for by the state if you are willing to work for the state for a few years. So that's definitely an option, but I'm not sure yet which way I'll go. I'm exploring options at the moment, but not very actively.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:39 AM
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421: Alas, he died about fifteen years ago. I know he read PL (and his camp was only about 40km from Auschwitz, though the mine as well as the camp had completely vanished when I went looking in 1989) but we never discussed it much.

He escaped for the third and final time as the Red Army was approaching, so he must have passed through Cracow at about the same time that Levi did. But he was instead shipped out home through Odessa.

In the camp he also learned enough Polish and Ukrainian to conduct a romance with a local pig girl. Goethe would surely have approved.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:41 AM
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re: 459

I think I do it because I'm not particularly brilliant as a programmer [it's only a part of my job] and have a terrible memory for the fine details. I could never pass one of those programming tests where you had to do something blind, from memory. So I do a lot of googling and theft when I'm writing code. So I always assume that not knowing how to do something isn't an obstacle as I'm in that position myself all the time, and if they are stuck they'll either figure out themselves with a bit of judicious internet searching or reading, or ask me. Doing neither doesn't occur to me as an option. And I then tend to ricochet back the other way.

'First, you turn your computer on. If you look, there's a wee button.'


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:42 AM
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conduct a romance with a local pig girl

Maybe "girl who raised pigs" or some other phrasing would help that sound better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:45 AM
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456: The intermediate, for either party, is to move to learning to correctly make the list of intermediate tasks, and then check progress through those. Yesno?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:45 AM
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Responding to x trapnel above:

. . . that effectively destroy any pleasure I might actually take in engaging in such intellectual dilettantery, without however bringing any compensating benefit (e.g., motivation to explore new or previously neglected interests).

I've mentioned before that that the year or two after completing my undergraduate degree were a depressing and frustrating period in my life. I couldn't find a job that was satisfying, and I just didn't have an identity for living as an adult. I'd fit comfortably into the identity of "college student" but when that ended I didn't know what I would be or be doing next.

I distinctly remember the feeling that all of the intellectual curiosity and cleverness that I had cultivated turned sour. It went from feeling like a strength to feeling like a weakness -- that the tendency to over think things and to believe that the solution to problems was to apply intelligence was getting in my way, rather than helping me. So whenever I would try to engage with something intellectually I would have this feeling of depression and a reaction that boiled down to, "oh sure, you can think, but what good does that do if you can't do anything."

For me the way out of that was just ending up in a job which was demanding and satisfying. That had it's own problems, because I put up with some bad workplace dynamics for a long time because I was just so glad to be doing something that felt productive.

To a large extent, I still depend on work to get that feeling of productivity in my life, but I don't feel embarrassed about having intellectual projects or hobbies outside of work (though, again, anything else ends up being pushed aside for work in a way that I sometimes think is not completely good).

So I would just say it's entirely possible that what you're feeling is that frustration with your life, and blaming yourself on some level for your situation, may psychologically cause you to blame the parts of your life and personality which you had cultivated as points of pride -- and hopefully that will go away once you can get to a point of no longer feeling frustrated with yourself.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:49 AM
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The one time I was in a real, but still very low supervisory position, I was mainly doing training and QC. After giving detailed feedback/corrections a few times for one guy who made a lot of errors and whose errors were time consuming and who didn't seem to improve, I finally wrote up a list of the pattern errors he made, which ran to something like 15 different errors - mostly grammatical, like problems with subject-object agreement - and asked him to correct his last batch of stuff by looking for these errors. After that, his work was fine. It also helped that the real managers above me had recently explained to him that he was barely keeping on to his job.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:53 AM
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463: does it really sound weird? To me it's just like "goose girl", but perhaps that's strange in the USA too, even when it's read as a noun phrase and not an instruction


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:55 AM
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467: Pig care isn't really gendered here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 11:57 AM
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'Goose girl' and 'pig girl' sound normal to me, but they're as literary as real -- even though we kept geese and pigs when I was a kid. What we didn't have were farmhands to be addressed by their jobs.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:05 PM
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468. Or anywhere. "Pig man" would be equally acceptable, especially if tasked with caring for the Empress of Blandings.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:07 PM
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Does anybody use "Hog confinement barn manager/ess"?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:09 PM
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If you look, there's a wee button.

The on button on our new computer at work (for the till, so it's not a normal desktop) is ESPECIALLY wee, and despite being quite computer literate it took me 5 minutes to work out where the hell the button was. I felt beyond stupid.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:12 PM
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In one of David Hull's books he refers to E.O. Wilson as "the world's biggest ant man."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:13 PM
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467: agricultural work was pretty gendered in Eastern Europe during the great patriotic war.

472: oh., fuck. I thought it was called the clitoris.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:15 PM
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I do a lot of googling and theft when I'm writing code.

This is my approach, too. Also I always need to double check things like whether function definitions need a colon when I start back up programming after a break from it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:17 PM
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472: My computer monitor, or minotor as I initially wrote, has no buttons at all. The plastic is entirely smooth and there are a few tiny words on the front, each of which constitutes what once might have been a button. The power button is a nearly invisible tiny circle to the right of those words. There need to be quite bright lights on in the room to see where the power button is. A couple seconds after you hit the power button, the blue light behind the monitor goes from being on with occastional inverted flashes of blackness, to being on consistently. Then a few seconds after that, the monitor turns on.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:18 PM
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476: My dad's computer monitor has a "button" that is a clear piece of completely rigid plastic that somehow knows when you touch it. I could not figure out how to turn it on before asking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:19 PM
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re: 474

Remained so until very recently. My mother-in-law (now retired) was a pig-lady. Until she did her back in, and then ran a school tuck shop.

re: 477

Min,e too. Samsung. There are some buttons on the side for adjusting stuff, but the power is a sensitive bit of smooth plastic on the front.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:22 PM
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479

re: 475

Yeah. I'm doing a lot of python at the moment, writing very similar things -- I never do anything complicated, it's all just shifting files from A to B, doing a bit of metadata munging, or image conversion -- so it sticks. But give it a few weeks over Christmas, and I'll be googling stuff again.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:23 PM
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480

googling and theft when I'm writing code

Works if you have a clear testing protocol (i.e., you run the code and can assess output for problems) Otherwise not so great.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:24 PM
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481

474.1: I'm sure, but I never heard of "pig boy" or "pig man" either. They all make me think of this.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:26 PM
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482

And my family raised pigs at least through the 1950s.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:27 PM
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483

re: 480

I'm never writing anything longer than a a couple of dozen lines. So it's always possible to do testing and I'm not stealing entire chunks of code, it's more a case of reusing snippets that solve some simple problem in an elegant/quick/easy way. So it's not programming in the sense that people working on large coding projects would recognise. It's basically glorified shellscripting, and a bit of text munging.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:36 PM
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484

'pig boy' is Taran Wanderer, and 'goose girl' talks with a helpful mare's head whenever she goes through the gate. Should be 11221 and ... hm... geese are bundled in with other fowl?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:37 PM
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485

481. You poor deprived soul! Get thee to a bookstore and learn all about pig men.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:44 PM
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486

I've tried and failed to read Wodehouse (Jeeves mostly). It's just too British for me to get into.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:48 PM
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487

Speaking of computer stuff: I just, finally, after a year and a half at this job, pulled everything apart, computer cable-wise, and re-plugged it in correctly. Surplus: 1 power strip, 1 modem, 3 ethernet cables, and 2 power cords. Also 2 outlets now in use that had been empty, and 1 outlet freed up -- on the other side of the office door. Sigh. I should have done this all a long time ago. Only took an hour or so of crawling around and rearranging things.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:49 PM
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488

486: You're like the cook who tries to serve salsa from somewhere back east when everyone knows the men just want Pace Picante Sauce.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:50 PM
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489

Really? I mean, lots of people feel that way, but from you I'm surprised.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:50 PM
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490

I've also tried and failed with Waugh. I suppose it is strange as there are contemporaries of theirs that are among my favorites.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:53 PM
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491

Iie 486 using "British" as "livef in Britain " or "oh for fuck's sake"?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:58 PM
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492

If I understood 491 correctly, the second. I really wanted Bertie to die.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 12:59 PM
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490. You have to be picky with Waugh. Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies are OK as broad farce, and the war trilogy is good, though completely eclipsed by Anthony Powell's three wartime novels. But much of the rest is dross, and Brideshead is unspeakably horrible.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:01 PM
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494

493: I started with Scoop but never got far.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:02 PM
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495

Ƒ cn rd this U cn get joß!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:03 PM
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494. The thing about the "early, funny ones" is that I found them easy to finish because it took about half an hour to read them. But Waugh's personality, which might kindly be described as sociopathic, does shine through them all. I've never gone back to them.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:06 PM
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497

I love a Handful of Dust.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:08 PM
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498

495: Who's Joss?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:11 PM
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497: If that's the one where Bertie dies, I'll try it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:11 PM
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My favorite Waugh is The Loved One.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:12 PM
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492: Huh. It's not that I can't see how that reaction could work, but I don't think I've ever run into it before.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:13 PM
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495: when can I start?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:13 PM
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503

I loved A Handful of Dust in college but only started a few of the others, never really got far into those. And now I can't remember a single thing about Handful.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 1:16 PM
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493: I gave Brideshead Revisited to a friend who writes a lot of m/m fanfic, e.g. X-Men and HP. Not only had *she* not read it, most of her fandom apparently hadn't. KIDS THESE DAYS. But now they have.

498: Owns Serenity Gulch.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 2:02 PM
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As for the smart but lazy thing, it reminds me of my attempt at NaNoWriMo. I've had vague ideas for a long time now about a novel or novels I'd like to write, but I never got much done. In addition to not putting much time into it in general, when I did put time into writing I'd get stuck editing the same paragraph over and over again. Then I heard about this challenge that just gives you a word count and quality isn't an issue. I had to change my usual methods a lot to stop myself from editing every time my mind wandered and just write the next bit, page after page, but when I finally figured out a way to do that, I made good time. I probably couldn't have finished, if not for the appendicitis. (There I go, making excuses!) Obviously, the product would need a lot of work before it could be remotely good, but the fact that I helped myself not worry about things that didn't matter for this specific goal made a huge difference.

Re: "goose girl" and variations, I think it confused me because any farm small enough for a girl or boy to work at would be a family farm with half a dozen things for a child of the family to work on, not just geese, and it's probably not the family's only source of income either. If someone is working at a money-making, profit-turning, industrial-sized farm focused entirely on one type of livestock, and particularly something like geese, they're an adult with a career. "Goose man" seems to me like a perfectly unambiguous, understandable phrase for "man who works on a goose farm," but maybe a bit insulting because it sounds less professional. Farming is a serious, highly credentialed business these days.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 3:07 PM
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Well, either they're an adult with a career, or they're a seasonal worker of uncertain nationality, in which case calling them "boy" could be seen s offensive. But anyways.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 3:19 PM
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I assume 'goose girl' and 'pig boy' both dated to when a (well-off) farm had large herds of each that foraged in woods. (Cf.: masting.) You need someone competent to spend rather a lot of time on their own and keep track of all those animals, and preferably someone who kind of gets on with them.

Geese used to be walked through warm tar and then sand to give them `toe-shoes' for a drove to the big city.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 3:23 PM
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(Thanks for the kind responses, folks. I'll be ok. I have an interview for a job on Tuesday, in fact ; I imagine it would be precisely the sort of busy, lots of specific things needing to be done each day job that would keep me from counterproductive moping.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12- 7-12 6:35 PM
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'pig boy' is Taran Wanderer

Yes, of course. When I first saw that I thought of Wesley from The Princess Bride who was, "farm boy."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 8-12 12:19 PM
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Geese used to be walked through warm tar and then sand to give them `toe-shoes' for a drove to the big city.

That is the best sentence I've read all week.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 8-12 12:21 PM
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510.2: Absolutely!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 8-12 12:31 PM
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precisely the sort of busy, lots of specific things needing to be done each day job that would keep me from counterproductive moping

Good luck, trapnel! Also, that's the sort of job that rescued me when I bombed out of grad school the first time. Physical therapy for my sense of efficacy.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 9-12 9:13 AM
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goose drove history; Roman Empire near bottom of page; includes turkey boots and pig socks


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 9-12 9:17 AM
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hello to every one who ever is reading this testimony today should please celebrate with me and my family because it all started like a joke to some people and others said it was impossible. my name is Bartholomew i live in United State i am happily married with three kids and a lovely wife something terrible happen to my family along the line, i lost my job and my wife packed out of my house because i was unable to take care of her and my kids three at that particular time. i manage all through 4 years, no wife to support me to take care of the children and there come a faithful day that i will never forget in my life i met an old friend who i explain all my difficulties to, and he took me to a spell caster and and the name of the temple is called, wiseindividualspell@gmail.com, i was assure that everything will be fine and my wife will come back to me after the wonderful work of wiseindividualspell@gmail.com, my wife came back to me and today i am one of the richest man in my country. i advice you if you have any problem email him with this email: wiseindividualspell@gmail.com and you will have the best result. take things for granted and it will be take from you. i wish you all the best.


Posted by: Bartholomew | Link to this comment | 08-16-13 1:58 AM
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